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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 1 hour 45 min ago

The Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) Speaks Out in Support of Patent Quality and AIA/PTAB in the United States

Saturday 10th of February 2018 10:19:22 PM

SIIA often promotes and helps proprietary software

Summary: SIIA, whose attacks on Free software we covered here before, actually expresses strong support for enforcers of Alice (the likes of PTAB), hence the elimination of many software patents

THE USPTO has, in recent years, leaned towards science and technology at the expense of the ‘lawsuits pipeline’ (or litigation ‘industry’). This is what every patent office should strive to achieve if its goal is to foster innovation, not a bunch of blood-sucking leeches like patent trolls and their representatives.

The PTO now enjoys a lot less clutter and better processing of applications, too. According to Patently-O‘s post from this afternoon: “Median pendency is now down to about 25 months from filing and only about 10% of these newly issued patents were pending for > 4 years.”

That’s a positive thing.

Ken Wasch, who describes himself as “the president and CEO of the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), a trade association for the software and digital content industry,” calls on Director Iancu to protect high patent quality and guard PTAB. From today’s opinion piece: (third such piece as recently as 5 days ago at The Hill; we mentioned the other two earlier today)

The AIA’s enactment reflected a bipartisan recognition that these poor-quality patents represented a threat to American innovation and a burden on American industry. The AIA has not eradicated the problem of poor patent quality and the related problem of patent trolls, but it has certainly helped.

From the software industry’s perspective (and we are not alone in this), the AIA’s reforms have been an enormous success. The act addressed this problem by allowing the patent office to, on limited grounds, revoke patents that should not have been granted in the first place.

The petitioner’s task is front-loaded: All of the relevant evidence has to be included in the petition, and the patent office will only take a serious look if there is a “reasonable likelihood” of invalidity.

The evidence consists of printed material intended to demonstrate that the patent issued to an invention that’s obvious. After hearing all the evidence, if a panel of patent experts believes that the office made a mistake in issuing it, they invalidate the patent.

This procedure, called inter partes review (IPR) has a balanced record of rejecting bad patents and upholding good ones. Although it has affected a small percentage (less than half a percentage point) of the roughly 2.8 million patents currently in force, this procedure has been enormously successful.

It’s reassuring but not surprising to see that even front groups of proprietary software companies support the patent reform. They — like Free software developers — want PTAB to stay and for software patents to stay away.

Links 10/2/2018: GNU/Linux in Slot Machines, VLC 3.0, Mesa 18.0 RC4

Saturday 10th of February 2018 09:27:07 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • GitHub: Here are the biggest open source project trends we’ll see in 2018

    In the cross-platform and web development sector, Angular/angular-cli repositories saw the most growth at 2.2x more users in 2017 than in 2016, the post said. Other Angular projects, Facebook’s React and Electron, were also popular.

    Developers are also heading to the site to look at deep learning projects as artificial intelligence continues to grow. Two TensorFlow repositories grew—TensorFlow/models saw 5.5x more traffic and TensorFlow/TensorFlow saw 2.2x more traffic in 2017 than in 2016.

  • Cross-platform development will dominate open-source this year, GitHub says

    The company also found an increase interest in deep learning. “Across multiple industries, artificial intelligence is solving a host of complex and interesting problems. You’ve helped drive that interest by upping your contributions to and visits to projects like Keras-team/Keras and Mozilla/DeepSpeech. TensorFlow/TensorFlow had 2.2 times more visits in 2017 than in 2016,” the company wrote in a post.

  • Open source project trends for 2018

    Last year, GitHub brought 24 million people from almost 200 countries together to code better and build bigger. From frameworks to data visualizations across more than 25 million repositories, you were busy in 2017—and the activity is picking up even more this year. With 2018 well underway, we’re using contributor, visitor, and star activity to identify some trends in open source projects for the year ahead.

  • How writing can change your career for the better, even if you don’t identify as a writer

    ut I did not start writing voluntarily. The tl;dr: of it is that my colleagues at Linux New Media eventually talked me into launching our first blog on the Linux Pro Magazine site. And as it turns out, it was one of the best career decisions I’ve ever made. I would not be working on Opensource.com today had I not started writing about what other people in open source were doing all those years ago.

  • Why an involved user community makes for better software

    Imagine releasing a major new infrastructure service based on open source software only to discover that the product you deployed had evolved so quickly that the documentation for the version you released is no longer available. At Bloomberg, we experienced this problem firsthand in our deployment of OpenStack. In late 2016, we spent six months testing and rolling out Liberty on our OpenStack environment. By that time, Liberty was about a year old, or two versions behind the latest build.

    [...]

    There is a solid model for how this should happen. We recently joined the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, part of The Linux Foundation.

  • Events
    • Mozilla Thunderbird: What Thunderbird Learned at FOSDEM

      Hello everyone! I’m writing this following a visit to Brussels this past weekend to the Free and Open Source Software conference called FOSDEM. As far as I know it is one of the largest, if not the largest FOSS conference in Europe. It proved to be a great opportunity to discuss Thunderbird with a wide range of contributors, users, and interested developers – and the feedback I received at the event was fantastic (and helpful)!

      First, some background, the Thunderbird team was stationed in the Mozilla booth, on the second floor of building K. We were next to the Apache Software Foundation and the Kopano Collaborative software booths (the Kopano folks gave us candy with “Mozilla” printed on it – very cool). We had hundreds of people stop by the booth and I got to ask a bunch of them about what they thought of Thunderbird. Below are some insights I gained from talking to the FOSDEM attendees.

    • Linux Plumbers Networking Track CFP

      Linux networking maintainer David Miller has put out a call for proposals for a two-day networking track at this year’s Linux Plumbers Conference (LPC). “We are seeking talks of 40 minutes in length, accompanied by papers of 2 to 10 pages in length.” The deadline for proposals is July 11. LPC will be held November 13-15 in Vancouver and the networking track will be held the first two days.

    • Want more inclusivity at your conference? Add childcare.

      Providing conference childcare isn’t difficult or expensive, and it makes a huge difference for parents of young children who might want to come. If your community wants to (visibly!) support work-life balance and family obligations — which, by the way, still disproportionately impact women — I urge you to look into providing event childcare. I don’t have kids myself — but a lot of my friends do, and someday I might. I’ve seen too many talented colleagues silently drop out of the conference scene and fade out of the community because they needed to choose between logistics for the family they loved and logistics for the work they loved — and there are simple things we can do to make it easier for them to stay.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Feasibility of low-level GPU access on the Web

        As the talks within WebGPU community group progress, it becomes apparent that the disagreements lie in more domains than simply technical. It’s about what the Web is today, and what we want it to become tomorrow.

      • Alternatives to vertical tabs

        For the longest time I’ve used vertical tabs in Firefox and I still find it odd that people don’t use it more. It’s a simple fact that a horizontal tab strip doesn’t scale too well when you get lots of tabs.

      • Asking Questions

        Will posted a great article a couple weeks ago, Giving and Receiving Help at Mozilla. I have been meaning to write a similar article for a while now. His post finally pushed me over the edge.

        Be sure to read Will’s post first. The rest of this article is an addendum to his post.

  • Databases
    • VLC 3.0, PostgreSQL 10.2, Sylabs, Zerodium Bounty and More

      PostgreSQL 10.2 was released yesterday, which includes numerous bug and security fixes: “This release fixes two security issues” as well as “issues found with VACUUM, GIN and hash indexes, parallel query, logical replication, and other bugs reported over the past three months. All users using the affected versions of PostgreSQL should update as soon as possible.”

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
    • LibreOffice 6.0 Gets First Point Release to Improve Security and Robustness

      A bit earlier than expected, the first point release of the LibreOffice 6.0 open-source and cross-platform office suite popped up today on the official channels for all supported platforms, along with the fifth maintenance update to the LibreOffice 5.4 series.

      LibreOffice 6.0.1 and 5.4.5 are now available for GNU/Linux, macOS, and Windows platforms with various bug and regression fixes. While a total of 75 issues were fixed in the first point of LibreOffice 6.0, the LibreOffice 5.4.5 update addresses about 69 bugs across several components of the open-source office suite. Also, the LibreOffice 6.0.1 includes an important security patch.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • Funding
    • Coinbase Introduces Open Source Fund: A Little $ Help for Some Friends

      Coinbase has launched the Coinbase Open Source Fund from which we’ll be donating $2500 each month to open source projects. According to its blog, Coinbase also began “as a humble Rails project” and has relied on open source software to build its systems and products.

    • Subtree Debuts Dotmesh and Dothub for Cloud Native Data Management

      The startup raises $10 million in a bid to bring more control to Docker and Kubernetes cloud-native application data management.

      [...]

      While dotmesh is intended to help enable data control in a cloud-native environment, the project is not currently part of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF). The CNCF itself is a Linux Foundation effort and is home to Kubernetes and multiple other cloud-native open-source projects. Marsden said that while dotmesh is not currently part of the CNCF, the work his company is doing is sympathetic to the goals of the CNCF, which are to build cloud-agnostic software.

  • Public Services/Government
    • Digital India can only grow via Open Source

      The Open Source Initiative is celebrating its 20th Anniversary in 2018 as the term was coined in a session held on February 3rd, 1998 in Palo Alto, California.

      In the last 20 years, the initiative has come a long way. Acknowledging the importance of’open source initiative’ which continues to play in our lives and to enable open discussion on the challenges that exist and to work out strategies to iron them out, Bharat Exhibition organised an ‘Open Source Summit 2018′ in New Delhi on February 08, 2018.

    • Open Source Turns 20: Digital India Also Reaps Its Benefits [Ed: Microsoft now bribes for events in India to call it “open source”

      This event was endorsed and supported by Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), Red Hat and Microsoft.

    • Sundar — a new traditional orthography ornamental font for Malayalam

      ‘Sundar’ is designed by K.H. Hussain — known for his work on Rachana and Meera fonts which comes pre-installed with most Linux distributions; and Narayana Bhattathiri — known for his beautiful calligraphy and lettering in Malayalam script.

  • Licensing/Legal
  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • An open source approach

      A new project has been launched by the University of Sydney, ErasmusMC and the Drugs for Neglected Disease Initiative to help find compounds that could lead to the treatment of fungal mycetoma.

      Mycetoma Open Source (MycetOS) will look for new ways to treat the neglected tropical infectious disease, which causes devastating deformities by attacking the skin, deep muscle and bone.

      The current antifungal treatment is reportedly expensive, toxic and ineffective, with only a 25-35% cure rate.

Leftovers
  • Science
    • Holograms Might Become a Big Part of Your Life Sooner Than You Think

      From where I’m standing, I can see Tom twice. The broad-shouldered sales manager is standing next to me, beaming as he watches himself—because he’s also opposite me, as a hologram on his phone, wearing a Liverpool jersey and bouncing a soccer ball between his knees. “So embarrassing,” he protests. “I haven’t played soccer in so long.”

    • Scientists create functioning kidney tissue

      Scientists have successfully produced human kidney tissue within a living organism which is able to produce urine, a first for medical science.

      The study led by Professors Sue Kimber and Adrian Woolf from The University of Manchester, signifies a significant milestone in the development of treatment for kidney disease.

      The Medical Research Council and Kidney Research UK funded project is published in the journal Stem Cell Reports.

    • How quantum dots supercharge farming, medicine and solar, too

      What if you could grow vegetables in half the time? What if a surgeon could see cancerous cells throughout an entire operation? What if solar panels could become significantly cheaper and easier to make?

      All of these improvements and more could come in the near future, thanks to the same tech that helps your TV create lavish and realistic colors. Quantum dots in TVs increase efficiency, create wider color gamuts and improve light output, and soon they’ll improve image quality even more.

  • Hardware
    • Apple’s AirPods Catch Fire in Owner’s Ears, Eventually Explode

      If there’s something we learned in the last couple of years about smartphones, it’s that we should always keep an eye on them, especially when charging, as the current battery technologies that are being used could catch fire at any moment, eventually posing as a threat to our lives.

      And now it turns out we should do the same thing with headphones given this new wireless trend that Apple is aggressively pushing for, as the company’s new AirPods have recently been involved in a terrifying incident.

    • Mass production of new class of semiconductors closer to reality

      The chemists have found a way to simultaneously control the orientation and select the size of single-walled carbon nanotubes deposited on a surface. That means the developers of semiconductors can use carbon as opposed to silicon, which will reduce the size and increase the speed of the devices while improving their battery life.

      “We’re reaching the limits of what’s physically possible with silicon-based devices,” said co-author Derek Schipper, Canada Research Chair Organic Material Synthesis at the University of Waterloo. “Not only would single-walled carbon nanotube-based electronics be more powerful, they would also consume less power.”

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Scientists studying psychoactive drugs accidentally proved the self is an illusion

      Philosophers and mystics have long contemplated the disconcerting notion that the fixed self is an illusion. Neuroscientists now think they can prove it or, at least, help us glimpse this truth with some help from psilocybin, the psychoactive property in magic mushrooms.

      Researchers around the world are exploring the drug’s transformative power to help people quit smoking; lower violent crime; treat depression, anxiety. and post-traumatic stress disorder; and trigger lasting spiritual epiphanies in psychologically healthy people, especially when coupled with meditation or contemplative training.

    • Huge levels of antibiotic use in US farming revealed

      Livestock raised for food in the US are dosed with five times as much antibiotic medicine as farm animals in the UK, new data has shown, raising questions about rules on meat imports under post-Brexit trade deals.

      The difference in rates of dosage rises to at least nine times as much in the case of cattle raised for beef, and may be as high as 16 times the rate of dosage per cow in the UK. There is currently a ban on imports of American beef throughout Europe, owing mainly to the free use of growth hormones in the US.

  • Security
  • Defence/Aggression
    • U.S. Misses Opportunity for Korean Peace at Olympics

      President Moon Jae-in said at a carefully planned dinner to honor Kim Yong Nam, the North Korean president’s sister, and Vice President Mike Pence that he hoped the Winter Olympics would be remembered as the “day peace began.” But Vice President Pence did his best to make sure that did not happen, missing the opportunity to further peace on the peninsula created by Moon. Dismissing the historic opening created by North and South Korea, Pence handled the situation instead like a childish teenager.

      At a dinner reception where President Moon sought an opportunity for dialogue between U.S. officals and North Koreans, Pence went through great – and somewhat awkward – lengths to avoid talking to them. According to Reuters, when Pence arrived late to the reception he told Moon he planned to leave directly after a photo session but Moon asked him to “come and say hello to friends.” Moon was trying to create a dialogue to advance peace but Pence went around the table and shook hands with everyone except Kim Yong Nam of North Korea.

    • Why the U.S. War on ISIS Is Illegal

      No court has ever addressed the government’s justifications for military force in so many places. Now, one will.

      The United States’ war with al-Qaida has gone on so long, and has metastasized into so many different uses of U.S. armed forces around the globe, that it may be surprising to learn that the federal courts have only addressed the legality of a very small piece of it.

      After the 9/11 attacks, Congress passed a statute authorizing the executive branch to use military force against those groups directly connected to the attacks: al-Qaida and the Taliban. But today, the United States claims the authority to use armed force under that statute not just in Afghanistan, but also in Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, and Syria — against not just al-Qaida and the Taliban, but also al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, al-Shabab in Somalia, and now the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS.

      But no court has ever addressed the government’s legal justifications for military action in so many different parts of the world. Now, in a case brought by the ACLU, one court will. The federal district court in Washington, D.C., will address whether the executive branch can use its elastic and open-ended assertion of wartime authority to imprison indefinitely an American citizen with no connection to 9/11.

    • Donald Trump’s Thinking on Nukes Is Insane and Ignorant

      If one could adjectivize the president, there has never been anything Trumpier than Donald Trump’s posture on nuclear weapons. It’s an issue where he embraces contradictory thoughts in the same breath with routine. In candidate Trump’s debate with Hillary Clinton on September 26, 2016, he said, “I would certainly not do first strike” and “I can’t take anything off the table” within the space of seconds. In between, he pulled a Reagan and told a homespun tale on the subject, except his made no sense. “I looked the other night, I was seeing B-52s,” he said (where? In his head? On Sixth Avenue?). “They’re old enough that your father, your grandfather could be flying them,” he added. “We are not keeping up with other countries.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Did Fox News’ Report on Dem. Sen. Mark Warner and the Russia Investigation Come Straight from the Kremlin? [Ed: Isn't it incredible how corporate media see "Russia" in everything, including Wikileaks or News Corp.?]

      So when I say that Fox News may have received a tip straight from the Kremlin, I mean Wikileaks—which is inextricably linked to Russian intelligence (quick side note: a lot of those on the left have come to admire Wikileaks for exposing government malfeasance, and bristle at the notion that they have become a Russian disinformation outlet. If you think this to be the case—and that everything Wikileaks publishes is real and earnest—then you must also believe that per their dump of his e-mails, John Podesta is aware of “nonviolent extraterrestrial intelligence from the contiguous universe helping us bring zero point energy to Earth.”)

    • Leaked US documents can be used as evidence, rules UK Supreme Court

      In a groundbreaking ruling, the UK Supreme Court has said diplomatic cables leaked to WikiLeaks by whistleblower Chelsea Manning are admissible.

      “The Supreme Court unanimously holds that the [WikiLeaks] cable should have been admitted into evidence,” the bench ruled on Thursday, with five of the seven judges going against the lower court’s decision.

      The ruling comes as a form of vindication for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who tweeted that it was a “big win… that will affect many court proceedings around the world: leaked diplomatic cables are admissible as evidence.”

    • French Left Opposition Leader Melenchon Urges Paris to Grant Assange Asylum

      Jean-Luc Melenchon, leader of the left populist La France Insoumise party in France’s National Assembly, has urged the French government to provide Wikileaks founder Julian Assange with political asylum.

      In a press release published on his official blog, the politician urged Paris to “intervene and offer political asylum to Julian Assange” amid the ongoing injustice surrounding his detention by the British justice system.

    • ROGER STONE: Free Julian Assange, Mr. President
    • Mr President please free Julian Assange, says Donald Trump adviser ROGER STONE
    • Fox publishes senator’s leaked text messages less than two weeks after Julian Assange promised “news about Warner” to Hannity
    • Judge Tells CIA It Can’t Hand Classified Info To Journalists And Pretend The Info Hasn’t Been Made Public

      The CIA is spectacularly terrible at responding to FOIA requests. It’s so bad it’s highly possible the perceived ineptness is deliberate. The CIA simply does not want to release documents. If it can’t find enough FOIA exemptions to throw at the requester, it gets creative.

      A FOIA request for emails pertaining to the repeated and extended downtime suffered by the (irony!) CIA’s FOIA request portal was met with demands for more specifics from the requester. The CIA wanted things the requester would only know after receiving the emails he requested, like senders, recipients, and email subject lines.

      The CIA sat on another records request for six years before sending a letter to the requester telling him the request would be closed if he did not respond. To be fair, the agency had provided him a response of sorts five years earlier: a copy of his own FOIA request, claiming it was the only document the agency could locate containing the phrase “records system.”

      In yet another example of CIA deviousness, the agency told a requester the documents requested would take 28 years and over $100,000 to compile. Then it went even further. During the resulting FOIA lawsuit, the DOJ claimed the job was simply too impossible to undertake. Less than 2 months after MuckRock’s successful lawsuit, the entire database went live at the CIA’s website — more than 27 years ahead of schedule.

  • Finance
    • Teachers unions kept from delivering complaints to DeVos

      The two largest teachers unions in the U.S. were blocked from delivering “failing” report cards to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Thursday.

      The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA) were among the groups that attempted to deliver more than 80,000 report cards to DeVos grading her performance during her first year in the job.

    • Someone hacked China’s central bank mailbox to email a bogus notice about bitcoin crackdown

      The bogus invitation could be a ruse by traders seeking to profit from a further decline in cryptocurrencies including bitcoin on the futures market, analysts said.

    • Amazon to Launch Delivery Service That Would Vie With FedEx, UPS

      Amazon.com Inc. is preparing to launch a delivery service for businesses, positioning it to compete directly with United Parcel Service Inc. and FedEx Corp.

    • Media Ignoring Puerto Rico’s ‘Shock Doctrine’ Makeover

      Nearly five months after Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, more than a hundred thousand US citizens there still lack clean drinking water, and almost one-third of the island has no reliable electric power. As initial life-sustaining recovery efforts still grind toward completion, Puerto Rico’s Gov. Ricardo Rosselló has wasted no time using his territory’s recovery as an opportunity to push a number of policy proposals right out of the “disaster capitalism” playbook: from privatizing the island’s power utility to converting nearly all of its public schools to charters.

      And while the mainstream US press has been mainly focused on the Trump administration’s woeful institutional response to the storm, it has barely noticed this much more radical political transformation of Puerto Rico, and the potentially disastrous long-term consequences for the citizens who live there.

      Ever since Maria made landfall on September 20, the corporate press has been neglecting the island in its coverage. Despite ranking second behind 2005’s Hurricane Katrina for property damage and lives lost, Maria has drawn markedly less media attention than the two major hurricanes that preceded it last summer. For example, according to a survey by the Tyndall Report, broadcast network evening news reports in 2017 devoted 30 percent less coverage to the aftermath of Maria than to Houston’s recovery from Hurricane Harvey. Likewise, Maria drew 12 percent less evening news coverage than Hurricane Irma’s devastation of Florida and the US Virgin Islands.

    • Kushner Companies Decides to Fight Tenants in State Court Rather Than Reveal Its Investors’ Identities

      Jared Kushner’s family real estate company has backtracked on its effort to have a lawsuit filed against it by tenants of its Baltimore-area apartment complexes moved to federal court, after a judge ruled that this transfer would require it to reveal the identities of its investment partners.

      The tenants’ class-action lawsuit was filed in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City in September, four months after a ProPublica article co-published with the New York Times Magazine described the highly aggressive tactics used by Kushner Companies to pursue tenants and former tenants over allegedly unpaid rent or broken leases. The lawsuit alleged that Kushner Companies, which owns 15 large apartment complexes in the Baltimore area, was improperly piling late fees and court fees onto tenants’ bills, often in excess of state limits, and using the threat of immediate eviction to force payment.

    • Dozens of White House Staffers Lack Permanent Security Clearance

      Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports dozens of other White House employees lack permanent security clearances as they pursue FBI approval to handle sensitive information. Among them is Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, who failed to report over 100 foreign contacts on his initial application, which he has since revised three times.

    • I voted to leave the European Union. I was wrong.

      When I voted to leave the European Union in June 2016, I did so with the best of intentions. I knew that the vote would be close, even if it was 45%-55% to Leave, I asked myself how could the narrow minority on the other side be completely forgotten? Surely we would remain in the Single Market, enjoy all the of benefits of a Norway style Brexit – the free movement of goods, services, capital and people while getting rid of some of the bad aspects of EU membership, such as the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), questionable accountability and the inherent democratic deficit within its institutions, as well as regaining the ability to choose which laws we pass at a national level.

      I was optimistic about the future of Britain. Free from the shackles of the vast majority of future EU regulation at a domestic level while safeguarding our place within the EEA, Britain would flourish by signing new trade deals across the world, lowering our tariffs across the board and utilising the strength of our soft power to become a greater player on the world stage.

    • Russian Nuclear Scientists Used Supercomputers To Mine For Cryptocurrency

      Russian security officials arrested a number of scientists working at a secret Russian nuclear weapons facility for allegedly using lab equipment to mine for cryptocurrencies, according to Russia’s Interfax News Agency .

      The engineers arrested in the incident were working at the All-Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics (RFNC-VNIIEF). No official criminal charges have been announced and law enforcement has not said how many members of the operation were detained.

    • Win for German armored vehicle maker could leave British firms out in the cold

      Artec plans to assemble the main element of its Boxer vehicle at Pearson Engineering’s factory in northeast England ― that is if the British Ministry of Defence hands the German company a deal to supply several hundred of the eight-wheel drive armored personnel carriers to the British Army.

    • What the Headlines about Tesla, Snap, and Twitter “Earnings” Should Have Said

      When Snap reported “earnings” this week – in quotes because it was its biggest loss ever – media headlines were euphoric, from TechCrunch (“Snap shares skyrocket on first earnings beat with revived user growth”) to The Wall Street Journal (“Snap Climbs Back Above IPO Price After ‘Shocker’ Earnings”).

      The theory was that Snap had reported “better-than-expected earnings.” Thanks to these headlines, over February 7 and 8, Snap shares skyrocketed 48% to $20.75, though they have fallen off somewhat since then.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Social networks are broken. This man wants to fix them.

      In the past, if you wanted to change the world, you had to pass a law or start a war. Now you create a hashtag. Ethan Zuckerman studies how people change the world, or attempt to, by using social media or other technological means. As director of the Center for Civic Media at MIT and an associate professor at the MIT Media Lab, he tries to help his students make sense of these issues. Zuckerman is also writing a book about civic engagement during a time when we have a lot less trust in institutions—government, businesses, banks, and so on. Maybe that lack of trust is reasonable. After all, we’ve spent the last decade-plus slowly turning our data over to large corporations like Facebook and Google without quite realizing we were doing it. Zuckerman knows what it’s like to build technology that pisses a lot of people off. Back in the 1990s he created what became one of the most hated objects on the internet: the pop-up ad. The aim was to show an ad on a web page without making it look as though the advertiser necessarily endorsed the content on the page. “Our intentions,” he later wrote in an apology to the internet at large, “were good.” Zuckerman spoke with MIT Technology Review about how social media started controlling us rather than the other way around.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • The Death Of Individualism — It’s Gotten Its Start On Campus

      The goal of our culture now is not the emancipation of the individual from the group, but the permanent definition of the individual by the group. We used to call this bigotry. Now we call it being woke. You see: We are all on campus now.

    • Turkey’s broadcasting watchdog to monitor online content under draft law

      The regulation would allow the RTUK watchdog to halt audio and video material streamed online, social media posts and films offered by Internet-based providers like Netflix if they are deemed a threat to national security or moral values.

    • YouTube suspends ads on Logan Paul videos
    • Living in an Orwellian Tyranny

      Yesterday Nick Timothy, Theresa May’s former aide, was accused of using an antisemitic slur in his article on Brexit. He co-authored a Telegraph report titled, George Soros, the man who ‘broke the Bank of England’, backing secret plot to thwart Brexit.

      Not only did Timothy not criticise Soros as a Jew, he didn’t even refer to him as a Jew. But it seems the fact that Soros is a Jew was enough to censure Timothy as an ‘antisemite.’ It took no more.

      Stephen Bush wrote in The New Statesman , “The reason that many find the Telegraph’s treatment so disturbing is that Soros, who is Jewish, has been at the centre of a series of anti-Semitic conspiracies by the increasingly authoritarian governments in Poland, Hungary and Turkey.” It is mildly amusing that the banal Stephen Bush can’t see that he himself employs an authoritarian manner of thought. Unless guilt by association has become Britain’s press’ MO, the fact that some regimes not approved of by Bush or The New Statesman decided to cleanse themselves of Soros’ infiltration has little relevance to Timothy or his argument.

    • Commercial Content Moderation And Worker Wellness: Challenges & Opportunities

      Wojcicki also went on to refer to the platform’s development of its automated moderation mechanisms, artificial intelligence and machine learning as key to its plans to combat undesirable content, as it has in other cases when disturbing material was found on the platform in large amounts. Importantly, however, and as indicated by Wojcicki, the work of those thousands of human content moderators would go directly to building the artificial intelligence required to automate the moderation processes in the first place. In recent months, other major social media and UGC-reliant platforms have also offered up plans to hire new content moderators by the thousands in the wake of criticism around undesirable content proliferating within their products.

    • An English-Language, Algorithmically-Personalized News Aggregator, Based In China — What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

      The use of highly-automated systems, running on server farms in China, represents new challenges beyond those encountered so far with Facebook and similar social media, where context and curation are being used to an increasing degree to mitigate the potential harm of algorithmic newsfeeds. The fact that a service like TopBuzz is provided by systems outside the control of the US or other Western jurisdictions poses additional problems. As deep-pocketed Chinese Internet companies seek to expand outside their home markets, bringing with them their own approaches and legal frameworks, we can expect these kind of issues to become increasingly thorny. We are also likely to see those same services begin to wrestle with some of the same problems currently being tackled in the West.

    • China’s #MeToo faces censorship and warnings

      The fight against sexual harassment in China started on college campuses, when former student Luo Xixi shared her story on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, in January. The account went viral and Beihang University in Beijing sacked the professor at the center of her assault claim. China’s education ministry also announced it would look into setting up a procedure to prevent sexual harassment.

      But authorities have been censoring online posts in support of the #MeToo movement including the primary hashtag of China’s campaign, #MeTooInChina, which was temporarily blocked (The Conversation), leading to code words and emojis being used on social media to continue the campaign. Universities have warned students to tone down their activism.

    • In a healthy society you don’t need censors at all: Prakash Raj
    • Victory Over PC Art Censorship In England Proves We Can Have Nice Things If We Try

      The painting, which hung in a room entitled “In Pursuit of Beauty,” was removed “to prompt conversations about how we display and interpret artworks in Manchester’s public collection.” The gallery’s curator felt a “sense of embarrassment” that the 19th century art displayed in the room depicted women as passive objects and femme fatale figures without proper modern #TimesUp and #MeToo context.

    • Can we have a debate about the art of desire if we remove the object of the discussion?

      It’s been a funny old week in the world of art. By funny I, of course, mean strange. A week ago today the Manchester Art Gallery removed from view the much revered painting Hylas and the Nymphs by Pre-Raphaelite painter JW Waterhouse.

      The act of removal was part of a staged gallery take over by artist Sonia Boyce, who coincidentally is having an exhibition of her work there from March to September. Not content with sending this beautiful picture back to the store room, she persuaded the gallery to remove all postcards and posters featuring this popular scene of temptation and sexual desire from the gallery shop.

    • Of hypocrisy and censorship

      Vibrant. The second day of the Kerala Literature Festival (KLF) under way on Kozhikode Beach can be described with this one word. Voices, counter voices, dissent, debate, flashes of new ideas, calling out society’s hypocrisy and victory celebrations marked various sessions of the festival on Friday.

      Union Minister of State for Tourism J. Alphons set the ball rolling in the morning by alleging that the festival propagated only Leftist ideas, followed by a statement by festival director K. Satchidanandan that it was not true and that people who shared different ideologies were part of the festival.

    • Techdirt, Volokh Conspiracy Targeted With Bogus Defamation Claim For Publishing A Bunch Of Facts

      This case has to do with withheld documents and FOIA exemptions. It does not guarantee some right to “practical obscurity” for all Americans. In this case, the DOJ withheld rap sheets from release, arguing their release would be an “unwarranted invasion of privacy.” The Supreme Court agreed, stating that the purpose of FOIA law was to permit examination of the government’s inner workings, not subject private citizens’ lives to greater scrutiny.

      A police report, obtained and posted by a private citizen (or even a news agency), is not a violation of this ruling. And it sure as hell isn’t defamation. Haas is welcome to litigate the issue, but he’d have to sue the police department for releasing it. If Eugene Volokh acquired it from the other party in the complaint (who has a right to obtain a copy of the police report), then Haas has no one he can bring legal action against. The other party involved in a police report can do whatever they want with their copy, including sharing it with blogs detailing a politician’s incredibly stupid actions.

      As Jones notes at Shooting the Messenger, Google was no more impressed with this latest attempt to vanish critical posts. The links remain live in Google’s search engine results and Haas’ reputation remains as mismanaged as ever.

    • Google Does It Again: Fined $21 Million By India For Search Bias
  • Privacy/Surveillance
  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • The County’s Outrageous Targeting of Reporter Who Exposed Jail Deaths

      A headline like “60 Dead Inmates” has a way of focusing the mind, at least in theory. Alarm bells should have been going off across the county government when San Diego CityBeat exposed the shocking death toll at local jails.

      But prisoners kept dying, including a man who killed himself behind bars in yet anther suicide. His widow is suing. On the defensive, the county’s attorneys have found a target to harass: One of the reporters behind the award-winning coverage. They’ve upended her life, forcing her to do one of three things — expose sources by testifying about her work, agree to a deal that would protect her fragile health at the expense of harming the widow’s case or fight back.

      Kelly Davis, a highly respected colleague and fellow contributor to VOSD, did the right thing and refused to play ball with the county. A judge is standing with her, but the legal scuffle isn’t over.

      Enough. The county needs to stand up and back off.

    • Interview with EFF Executive Director Cindy Cohn on John Perry Barlow’s Legacy

      Cindy Cohn is the executive director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the international non-profit digital rights organization. From 2000 to 2015 Cohn served as Legal Director and General Counsel for EFF, but her involvement with the organization goes back to 1993. On February 7th, Cohn announced the death of EFF Founder John Perry Barlow. Barlow was a multi-talented man and a colorful figure. He was a poet, an essayist, a cattle rancher and a former lyricist for the Grateful Dead. Ms. Cohn was gracious enough to let me interview her about her unique perspective working with cyberlibertarian Barlow for the past 27 years.

    • Texas Lawsuit Alleging Fraud in Construction of First Border Wall Comes Apart

      A judge has dismissed a number of charges filed by a South Texas county against a former official accused of fraud in the construction of a $232 million border fence funded by the Department of Homeland Security.

      The ruling prompted Hidalgo County on Monday to withdraw all remaining legal actions against Godfrey Garza Jr., the former chief of its drainage district, who oversaw a project to improve the county’s levee system and build a fence to stop illegal immigration and drug smuggling.

      Judge Martin Chiuminatto of state district court in Hidalgo County told lawyers for the county and Garza that the evidence presented to support the county’s allegations of fraud was not strong enough to send to a jury, according to a transcript of the hearing late last month. Chiuminatto also dismissed charges against Garza’s wife, children and their companies.

    • Making a Life After Incarceration Shouldn’t Be Impossible

      After my mom went to prison, we decided to use what we learned to help others.

      In 2012, I founded an organization called Mission: Launch with my mom. Based out of Baltimore, Mission:Launch helps formerly incarcerated individuals become self-sufficient faster. For us, this means helping individuals earn a more livable wage by obtaining an occupational license through our program, LaunchPad.

      The biggest thing my mom and I have learned since starting Mission:Launch is the importance of having a strong support system. Of all the people we’ve interacted with at the organization, the people who are most successful are always the ones who have strong family or community support. During reentry, having that safety net of people who are willing to catch you if and when you fall is crucial. And so, at Mission:Launch, we prioritize community, family, and peer-support networks.

      In practice, that means getting to know every person we engage with and working to understand all the support they will need on their journey. This is why LaunchPad begins with a robust intake to better understand what type of holistic support a person will need. We then refer them to partner service organizations so that we can help them stay focused on obtaining their occupational license. As a society, we make it extremely hard for people to get back on their feet after incarceration. Without the right support it can be close to impossible.

    • Arizona Needs Laws That Protect Women Prisoners’ Menstrual Health

      Prisons in the state restrict female hygiene products, risking prisoners’ health and violating their dignity.

      Menstruation is a basic biological fact of everyday life for billions of women and girls across the planet. But for women behind bars, having your period can be a living nightmare. Prisons can make maintaining well-being and dignity a monthly struggle. That’s what’s happening in Arizona, where women receive scant hygiene products at great risk to their health and in violation of their human rights.

      Imagine having to plead for each sanitary napkin you need from a corrections officer. Now imagine the officer is male. Now imagine that you have to show your used napkins to him before you can get a fresh one. Women in Arizona prisons don’t have to imagine this. For them it’s a harsh reality.

      Women prisoners can even be denied access to tampons because they are an alleged “security risk.” In such cases, female prisoners can work 8-hour days with only a thin pad for protection while wearing their only pair of pants. Prisoners bleed through clothes and are forced to wear them for several days. They are not allowed to shower. For too many incarcerated women, a basic human function has been turned into a monthly violation of basic human rights.

    • ICE Wants to Be an Intelligence Agency Under Trump

      Officials at Immigration and Customs Enforcement are actively exploring joining the U.S. Intelligence Community, The Daily Beast has learned.

      The effort is helmed by a small cohort of career Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials, and has been underway since the Obama administration, according to an ICE official familiar with the matter.

      Internal advocates for joining the America’s spy agencies—known as the Intelligence Community or the IC—focus on the potential benefits to the agency’s work on counterproliferation, money laundering, counterterror, and cybercrime. The official added that joining the IC could also be useful for the agency’s immigration enforcement work––in particular, their efforts to find and arrest undocumented immigrants with criminal arrest warrants (known in ICE as fugitive aliens).

    • ICE Wants To Be Yet Another Federal Agency With Access To Unminimized Surveillance

      At this point, no one other than a few ICE officials really wants this to happen. Privacy and accountability activists say the last thing the White House should do is give the agency access to warrantless surveillance. ICE is a domestic enforcement agency and has no need to root around in foreign-facing data collections. The agency, however, feels foreign intel — along with the unmentioned backdoor searches of domestic communications — could aid it in tracking down drug traffickers, money launders, and various cybercriminals.

      But it shouldn’t have direct access. Nor should it ever really need it. Information sharing has been expanded, thanks to the last president, which means ICE likely already receives second-hand info from other IC members like the DHS, FBI, and DEA. Former government officials are wary of the idea of direct intel access, noting that it would result in more complications, rather than better immigration and customs enforcement.

    • Sweden ‘using me as chess piece’ says detained Hong Kong bookseller Gui Minhai in government-arranged interview

      Detained book publisher Gui Minhai on Friday accused the Swedish government of using him as a “chess piece” to make trouble for Beijing, claiming in an interview arranged by Chinese authorities that he did not want to leave the country.
      Speaking at a detention facility in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, he said: “The year 2018 is election year in Sweden … some politicians might be using me for political gains. I can’t rule out that some are trying to use me to create trouble for the Chinese government.”

    • Stockholm academic’s execution in Iran ‘could happen any time’

      sentence handed to Ahmadreza Djalali for allegedly spying on behalf of Israel have failed and his sentence is now “definitive” and could happen at any point, his lawyer has said.

      The Iranian emergency medicine specialist, who is resident in Sweden, was arrested in April 2016 in Iran and later charged with “spreading corruption on earth” by passing information on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear scientists to Mossad, Israel’s secret intelligence agency.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • ESPN Still Isn’t Quite Getting The Message Cord Cutters Are Sending

      We’ve noted repeatedly how ESPN has personified the cable and broadcast industry’s tone deafness to cord cutting and TV market evolution. The company not only spent years downplaying the trend as something only poor people do, it sued companies that attempted to offer consumers greater flexibility in how video content was consumed. ESPN execs clearly believed cord cutting was little more than a fad that would simply stop once Millennials started procreating, and ignored surveys showing how 56% of consumers would ditch ESPN in a heartbeat if it meant saving the $8 per month subscribers pay for the channel.

      As the data began to indicate the cord cutting trend was very real, insiders say ESPN was busy doubling down on bloated sports licensing deals and SportsCenter set redesigns. By the time ESPN had lost 10 million viewers in just a few years, the company was busy pretending they saw cord cutting coming all the while. ESPN subsequently decided the only solution was to fire hundreds of longstanding sports journalists and support personnel, but not the executives like John Skipper (since resigned) whose myopia made ESPN’s problems that much worse.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Supreme Court pregabalin hearing to have a big impact on UK pharma patent rights

      Next week’s UK Supreme Court hearing on the long-running patent dispute over pregabalin will be watched closely by life sciences innovators.

    • Federal Court rules controversial cattle genome patent invalid

      Australia’s cattle industry has scored a win against the US-based owners over a patent application it feared would put the brakes on improvement in Australia’s cattle herd.

      The Federal Court rejected the patent application, saying it was unclear in its scope, that it failed to adequality describe what the invention was, and whether there was an industrial application for it.

      Meat and Livestock Australia spends hundreds of millions of dollars on genetic research in cattle, and feared the patent application threatened Australian farmers’ access to important genomic testing.

    • Trademarks
      • Moosehead Breweries Cuts And Runs From Trademark Suit Against Hop ‘N Moose Brewing

        For the past few years, we have detailed several trademark actions brought by Moosehead Breweries Limited, the iconic Canadian brewery that makes Moosehead beer, against pretty much every other alcohol-related business that dares to use the word “moose” or any moose images. This recent trend has revealed that Moosehead is of the opinion that only it can utilize the notorious animal symbol of both Canada and the northern United States. Without any seeming care for whether actual confusion might exist in the marketplace, these actions by Moosehead have instead smacked of pure protectionism over a common word and any and all images of a common animal.

        One of those actions included a suit against Hop ‘N Moose Brewing, a small microbrewery out of Vermont. The filing in that case was notable in that it actually alleged detailed examples of trade dress infractions, while the images of the trade dress included in the filing appeared to be fairly distinct. Absent, of course, was any evidence of actual confusion in the marketplace. It appeared for all the world that Moosehead’s legal team seemed to take past criticism of its trademark protectionism as a critique of the word and image count in its filings and simply decided to up the volume on both ends. Since late last year, despite having done all of this legal literary work to support the suit, little if anything had been litigated after the initial filing.

    • Copyrights
      • Hollywood Has Some Wild Ideas For Copyright In NAFTA

        In the past few weeks, we at Public Knowledge have been talking with decision-makers on Capitol Hill about NAFTA. We wanted to educate ourselves on the negotiation process for this vital trade agreement, and fairly counsel lawmakers interested in its effects on consumer protection. And we discovered a thing or two in this process.

      • Twitter & Facebook Want You To Follow The Olympics… But Only If The IOC Gives Its Stamp Of Approval

        It is something of an unfortunate Techdirt tradition that every time the Olympics rolls around, we are alerted to some more nonsense by the organizations that put on the event — mainly the International Olympic Committee (IOC) — going out of their way to be completely censorial in the most obnoxious ways possible. And, even worse, watching as various governments and organizations bend to the IOC’s will on no legal basis at all. In the past, this has included the IOC’s ridiculous insistence on extra trademark rights that are not based on any actual laws. But, in the age of social media it’s gotten even worse. The Olympics and Twitter have a very questionable relationship as the company Twitter has been all too willing to censor content on behalf of the Olympics, while the Olympic committees, such as the USOC, continue to believe merely mentioning the Olympics is magically trademark infringement.

      • Can Nativity scene characters attract copyright protection under Italian law? It depends

        At Christmas time the making of Nativity scenes in churches and homes is a Catholic tradition that is particularly common in Southern Europe.

        Like many other Italian children, I have wonderful memories of when my brother and I used to plan and realize new Nativity scenes every year under the supervision of our parents.

        But can the various characters (little statues) that compose the various Nativity scenes be eligible for copyright protection?

        This is an issue that has been recently at the centre of litigation in Italy.

        Katfriend Angela Saltarelli (Chiomenti) discusses an interesting ruling of the Italian Supreme Court (Corte di Cassazione).

      • Chrome and Firefox Block 123movies Over “Harmful Programs”

        Chrome and Firefox are actively blocking direct access to the popular pirate streaming site 123movies, also known as 123movieshub and Gomovies. According to Google’s Safe Browsing diagnostics service, the site contains “harmful programs,” most likely triggered by suspicious advertisements running on the site.

      • MPA Met With Russian Site-Blocking Body to Discuss Piracy

        Last week, Stan McCoy, president of the Motion Picture Association’s EMEA division, met with the head of Russia’s telecoms watchdog in Moscow. Rozcomnadzor says that a number of issues were discussed, including strengthening international cooperation. For once, Russia had some anti-piracy achievements to boast about that the United States couldn’t match.

      • Pirate ‘Kodi’ Boxes & Infringing Streams Cost eBay Sellers Dearly

        Ebay and social media are popular places to sell and obtain ‘pirate’ streaming devices but for two sellers, things haven’t gone to plan. According to the Premier League and partners the Federation Against Copyright Theft, the men have agreed to pay £18,000 and £8,000 respectively, for supplying piracy-configured Kodi boxes and subscriptions to illicit streams.

The Chamber of Corporations, Together With the Trolls’ Lobby, Resorts to Alarmist Propaganda in an Effort to Alter Patent Policy

Saturday 10th of February 2018 05:07:36 PM

And as usual they use China as the scaremongering strategy

Summary: Seeing that the US patent system has made moderate improvements to the quality of patents, businesses that rely on aggression make a whole lot of noise, pointing to “reports” or an “index” which bashes US patent policy

THE USPTO recently improved. Tomorrow and on Monday we’ll say a lot about PTAB. Numbers are increasing; not just patent numbers but also oppositions. Patents are no longer regarded as a “slam dunk”; they’re scrutinised more closely by courts, by PTAB and even by examiners (in spite of the temptation to just grant everything).

Patent microcosm, patent maximalists, patent radicals or whatever one calls them are losing their minds. They keep shouting about "China!" as if Chinese patent policy is the “gold standard” or a yardstick all of a sudden. Didn’t they spend decades if not centuries moaning about China being “pirates” or “thieves” and “knockoffs” or “ripoffs”? Why is China suddenly a role model to them? Intellectual dishonesty knows no bounds. All they care about is how much money they can make at the end of the day. Lawsuits are “business”. Threats are “business”. Convincing clients to pursue patents they don’t need and will never use is “business”. Whose business?

See this tweet which said (just a few days ago): “The decline in start-ups is blamed on incumbency and inability to disrupt. Could it be that our IP policies do not support new entrants?”

No, nothing to do with ‘IP’ policies. “You just superimpose your agenda onto unrelated news,” I told him.

This has become so typical. Any time some bad news about the US goes ‘viral’ the patent microcosm leaps/jumps at the opportunity to somehow frame that as ‘proof’ that patent policy needs to change. It has not only become laughable; it’s tiring because it’s impossible to rebut this echo chamber, simply because of the scale (their lies propagate among themselves ad infinitum).

The Chamber of Commerce (we typically call it "Chamber of Corporations" or "Chamber of Corporates") and USTR are not reliable sources of information. We exposed some of their malicious lies about 6-8 years ago, based on many cables published by Wikileaks (it’s commonly known as “Cablegate” and it’s a massive repository of information).

The Chamber of Commerce and USTR basically ‘rank’ countries based on how subservient they are to the largest US-based corporations. We were therefore disappointed to see IP Watch giving a platform to the Chamber of Commerce, which is a patent maximalist. On the same day (yesterday) IP Watch was also giving a platform to another patent maximalist (voice of imperialist oligarchs). In both cases it’s behind a paywall and Google News picks it up, so people will judge everything by headlines like “US Industry Index Makes Case For Strong IP Protection Worldwide” and “On IPR, Major US Trading Partners In Firing Line Of US Industry, While Cancer Patients Ask For Access”.

IP Watch is generally a good site, but in the interest of “balance” it often relays public relations material for lobbyists. This is not helpful to their reputation. The above-mentioned Chamber of Commerce “index” is already being exploited for the usual bashing of India, where software patents are not allowed. They do this every year. The Chamber of Commerce continues to bully and shame India, typically helped by sites like IAM, and business press then comes up with headlines like “India ranks 44 out of 50 nations in intellectual property index” (because it says no to unethical patents).

An article by Avadhi Joshi (Khurana and Khurana) meanwhile attempts to bring up a subject they refuse to leave alone. The headline says “India: Do Software Patents Actually Fall Under The Ambit Of Section 3(k)?”

What we have here is a bunch of patent lawyers continuing to disregard the law while striving to pursue software patents. From the opening paragraph:

Section 3k is often criticized for its ambiguity of the words “computer programme per se”. Though the Indian Patent Act doesn’t explicitly disallow software programs, a lot has been left to interpretation of the same, which in turn has been to many companies’ benefit. This article will analyze the patentability of software programs with support of a few cases.

We expect IAM to write something about that soon. Last year alone it wrote nearly 10 articles bashing India over its patent policy. At times, as expected, IAM cited the Chamber of Commerce for 'proof'. But it’s not just IAM. It’s easy to tell that Watchtroll is a nefarious site when it relies on the villainous Chamber of Commerce to construct a lobbying argument. That’s just what it did 2 days ago, resorting to old panic tactics and drama. Here’s what it said: “The United States was once again the top ranked country in overall score in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s annual Global IP Index for 2018, but the rankings are closer than ever. This year the United States edged out the United Kingdom by a mere .01 points on the Chamber scale”

What they’re basically measuring is patent maximalism and things like that. As if patent maximalism is absolutely desirable (it is to some occupations, like litigators)…

Watch some other headlines to the same effect: “The U.S. dropped to 12th place in countries with best patent systems”

What do they even mean by “best”? Certainly not patent quality. Remember, this is the Chamber of Commerce we’re talking about here. The name is misleading as it’s not a Federal thing but more of a corporate front group. The patent microcosm now relies on the villainous Chamber of Commerce, which is a lobby for special interests…

Here is what IAM wrote in Twitter: “US falls again in patent rankings in latest @USChamber IP report. Down to 12th now, below Italy.”

The report [PDF] is almost 200 pages long. We took a quick look. IAM added: “As well as another fall for the US it’s worth noting the big gains made by the by Korea’s patent system – up from 12th to 6th…”

But what does the rank even mean? What is it based on? Not actual patent quality.

Here’s a patent maximalist hollering at the USPTO: “We’re Number 12, We’re Number 12… https://twitter.com/uspto/status/961630897920532482 …”

He’s trying to pressure them to go back to patent maximalism.

Another patent maximalist said: “Below Italy (!?) the (mighty) American patent system continues to fall. #EfficientInfringers & their mouthpieces @EFF @publicknowledge & other allegedly “public interest” groups are great at defeating US industrial policy & undermine #Inventors & horrific at creating jobs https://twitter.com/iam_magazine/status/961609122776002561 …”

As if EFF and Public Knowledge are less credible than the Chamber of Commerce? The EFF and Public Knowledge care about their country; the Chamber of Commerce cares about a few oligarchs in need of protectionism.

Here comes the Koch-funded lobby for patent trolls. Adam Mossoff wrote: “IMPORTANT READ: “U.S. Innovation Economy Falls Even Further in Latest GIPC Patent Rankings.” For 2nd year in a row, US drops in rankings due to uncertainty & anti-patent changes in past decade. Time to #fixPTAB & #fix101 to save US #innovation leadership!”

Remember that Mossoff and his collaborators are funded by oligarchs. One response said: “Last year = possible anomaly. This year = trend. Everyone in IP should be troubled by this.”

“Everyone in IP” means patent lawyers and the likes of them, including patent trolls whom they service.

Good riddance.

Iancu is then invoked: “#1 -> #10 -> #12. This year the icepick is only 20% deeper into our eye! How much more of a wakeup call do we need? Sure counting on Dir. Iancu to arrest this slide.”

Will Iancu work for the patent microcosm that he came from? We worry so. Will he succumb to pressure from the Chamber of Commerce or listen to voices of reason such as the EFF and Public Knowledge?

Dennis Crouch, as usual, uses the “China card” to ‘guide’ Iancu back into patent maximalism traps. Watch what he wrote some days ago:

I wrote earlier this week that the Chinese patent system is at a crossroads as it reaches middle-age. I believe that the US patent system is also at a crossroads – ready to be refreshed and renewed, but tentative about what that will mean for established interests. I look forward to hearing Iancu’s vision for the future and his ideas for implementation.

Here they go again with “China!”

For crying out loud, have they run out of rational arguments? There’s no potent argument for patent maximalism, so they just lean on ‘China envy’ if not full-blown Chinophobia.

Lobby group IAM is also pressuring Iancu. It’s asking him to listen to the Chamber of Commerce and ruin the system’s reforms for the sake of maximalists/trolls. IAM is giving him tasks using alarmist nonsense. From the closing paragraph: “The Chamber’s IP index has undoubtedly become a cudgel for critics of the US patent system to drive home their point that changes need to be made to instill greater certainty into section 101, particularly in areas like medical diagnostics, and to address the concerns that IPR remains skewed against patent owners. That it has once again shown America’s decline relative to other leading IP jurisdictions underscores the size of the task facing the recently confirmed USPTO director Andrei Iancu. Restoring some faith in the US patent system may well feature prominently on his to-do list.”

In contrast, there are voices of reason that do not rely on what IAM calls “The Chamber” above (“the” — as though it’s something quite so authoritative). The R Street Institute, for example, has just published this opinion/article at The Hill. Charles Duan, who describes himself as “a senior fellow and associate director of tech and innovation policy at the R Street Institute,” asks Iancu to improve patent quality. Here is what he wrote about PTAB: “Maintaining the effectiveness of post-grant patent review procedures. The procedures introduced in 2011 with the America Invents Act — namely inter partes review, post-grant review and covered business methods review — are critical to ensuring that erroneously-granted patents can be efficiently reconsidered, limiting any damage they may cause. Already, parties have used inter partes review to challenge questionable patents on technologies such as podcasting and software activation. Proceedings like inter partes review work well because, in large part, they are run by expert judges of an expert agency with experience in patent law and technology. Certainly, there are procedural elements for the USPTO to refine. But the agency should reject critics’ calls to eliminate the proceedings entirely, to limit severely their effectiveness, or to devolve certain disputes (such as those over pharmaceuticals) to generalist federal courts.”

Here’s what Duan said about quality: “Improving patent quality and internal monitoring procedures. Poor-quality patents — especially those on old or obvious ideas — provide no value to innovation or the economy, and in fact can detract from economic growth. The USPTO is the first line of defense against poor-quality patents being issued, and it should dedicate resources to examiner training and internal monitoring systems that focus on the correctness of decisions to grant patents.”

The Hill has also published an opinion of an opposite nature. Kristen Jakobsen Osenga wants more patent litigation, almost as if that in its own right would spur innovation. Here’s what he said:

Part of the reason the U.S. innovation economy has flourished is because of our strong patent system. Lately, however, the strength of this patent system has been eroding, due to changes that have decreased the value of patents and made patent rights less certain.

[...]

When a company that used to pay a license to use a technology can stop paying a licensing fee but continue to use the technology and simply wait for the patent owner to sue it, that’s a sign of a weak patent system.

When, after a company is found to be infringing a valid patent on a technology developed by others, others step in on its behalf to argue that the infringer should be allowed to continue its behavior, that’s a sign of a patent system that is eroding.

The headline of the piece from Kristen Jakobsen Osenga is “US takes one step forward, two steps back on innovation,” but it has absolutely nothing to do with innovation. It’s all about patents.

The CCIA too had a response to misleading headlines and patent lawyers who intentionally conflate patents with innovation (the classic lie). The CCIA’s site Patent Progress wrote:

As part of Patent Progress’ series on innovation in the United States, we are examining ways to measure innovation. One useful metric, measuring the investment being made in the creation of new and innovative technologies, is research and development spending. This metric tends to show the investment in innovation, in particular by larger companies. And if we examine R&D spending, we see the same story we saw with respect to startups and venture capital earlier in our series—innovation in the United States continues to be world-class.

Do not fall for the illusion that economic success and innovation depend on patents. In the right balance they might. But patent maximalism as promoted by “The Chamber” together with IAM and Watchtroll is all about giving away money to lawyers and trolls.

China’s Patent Policy Helps Chinese Oligarchs and Creates a Large Litigation ‘Industry’ Which Protects the Oligarchy

Saturday 10th of February 2018 03:43:28 PM

Summary: An analysis of the latest news and views from China, where patent protectionism is on the rise not in the name of innovation but protectionism for colossal state-connected firms such as Huawei

THE UNITED STATES is quite likely the most powerful country in the world in terms of military might and economic might. Sure, China’s military is bigger by some criteria and its growing GDP (not per capita) is a growing threat to US dominance. China now yields more academic papers than the US and there’s a plethora of other measures by which the US is declining compared to China (as well as many other countries). What we do not like, however, is how patent maximalists blame US decline on patent rationality and a much saner patent policy. They try to latch onto reports about US demise and frame these as ‘evidence’ of patent law needing a change. There’s a lot more to the US than this; the USPTO isn’t the pillar on which the US was built. In fact, the US as a powerful country predates the USPTO.

Yesterday at IP Watch Steven Seidenberg wrote about the case of WesternGeco (WesternGeco LLC v ION Geophysical Corp. to be more specific). “On January 12,” he explained, “the US Supreme Court agreed to hear a case that could produce a major change in US patent law, with effects reaching far beyond America’s borders. At issue in WesternGeco LLC v. ION Geophysical Corp. is whether and when a US patent owner can collect infringement damages on a global basis.” The headline, “US May Extend Its Patent Damages Worldwide,” is a good outline as it’s all about damages, not scope. Our prediction is that this will be a split decision. As we explained before, it barely matters to us because we have always been focused on patent scope. A lot of patent pundits use this case for China-baiting. We have actually grown rather disgusted by their obsession with China as they often use China as the catch-all excuse for any lobbying agenda they may have. They have been doing it for over a year. Intellectual dishonesty for one’s wallet is so commonplace that Richard from IAM wrote a few days ago: “The emergence of a professional IP class in China is going to have a big impact on IP value creation in the coming years – i suspect we’ll be learning a lot…”

“What you mean by “professional IP class” is a bunch of patent lawyers enabling ruin in China,” I told him. I actually meant it. Another patent maximalist who links to IAM said: “The Chinese IP market continues to grow! http://www.iam-media.com/blog/Detail.aspx?g=8798408e-b309-456f-b5ab-9d81e42e2c2b …”

“You mean Chinese LITIGATION ‘market’ (that you profit from),” I told him. He is already based in China. Watch what IAM published some days ago: “China’s continued trademark reforms”

The patent microcosm, including patent extortionists such as Microsoft, links to IAM quite a lot. IAM is like their lobbying group or propaganda mill.

Found via the above person (from China) was this new report about how China suppresses Korean phone giants using patents. “Samsung understands the power of injunctions in China patent cases,” he said, “and Samsung does not respect the Chinese courts.”

LG recently left the country, which leaves only one South Korean giant in China. To quote the report:

Samsung asked a California federal judge Thursday to block Chinese smartphone maker Huawei from enforcing an injunction it won in China last month ordering Samsung to stop making or selling devices that infringe two Huawei patents found to be essential to industry standards for 4G wireless technology.

The Chinese injunction, Samsung said, is nothing more than an improper attempt at gaining leverage to force it to license standard-essential patents, or SEPs, on Huawei’s preferred terms.

We wrote about it roughly a week ago; what we’re seeing here is China using patents just like it uses its censorship policy. It’s a convenient pretext for sanctioning/blocking foreign companies — a subject which received plenty of press coverage last year. Here is what IAM wrote about it:

Samsung Electronics is asking a federal judge in California to stop Huawei from enforcing an SEP injunction it won in China earlier this year. In doing so, the Korean company has given an indication of when that order might actually come into effect – and revealed the significant business disruption that it could entail inside and outside of China.

The Shenzhen Intermediate People’s Court announced an injunction against Samsung on 11th January. It found that two patents asserted by Huawei were infringed, essential to the 4G standard and that Samsung had violated FRAND principles by “maliciously delaying talks”. The two cases were filed on 25th May 2016. One day earlier, Huawei had sued Samsung over some of the same SEP families in the Northern District of California. That is where Samsung is now trying to put the brakes on the Shenzhen injunction.

As we showed some days ago, the lion’s share of patent litigation in China comes from Chinese companies; it’s very different from what we see in other large economies. What’s also interesting is the extent to which this patent policy helps Chinese giants — not small companies — and thus enriches Chinese oligarchs (typically connected to the CPC).

Watch what just happened to Wuxi Shangji Automation: Just what a relatively small business needs? More litigation? “Meyer Burger goes to Chinese court for patent infringement,” the headline says. It’s from 3 days ago:

The Swiss PV equipment manufacturer has filed a patent infringement lawsuit in China against Wuxi Shangji Automation Co, Ltd. for the protection of its patented wire winding system for the cutting of solar wafers, the Diamond Wire Management System (DWMS).

It’s one of those rare cases where a lawsuit is filed in a Chinese court by a foreign company.

We are still trying to figure out the logic behind China's relatively new patent policy, which is a full embrace of patent maximalism. Dennis Crouch recently cited this new paper titled “A Half-Century of Scholarship on the Chinese Intellectual Property System” in which, according to Crouch, the author “offers excellent guidance by focusing more on flow and transition rather than a snapshot.”

The abstract mentions RCEP (a Trojan horse for software patents) and gives some historical perspective:

The first modern Chinese intellectual property law was established in August 1982, offering protection to trademarks. Since then, China adopted the Patent Law in 1984, the Copyright Law in 1990 and the Anti-Unfair Competition Law in 1993. In December 2001, China became a member of the World Trade Organization, assuming obligations under the TRIPS Agreement. In the past decade, the country has also actively participated in bilateral, regional and plurilateral trade negotiations, including the development of the RCEP.

The above is just a short outline of some of the latest information we have about China. A lot of it is actually misinformation from patent maximalists who, as we shall show in the next post, seek to exploit China to justify an expansion of patent maximalism in the US. They already lobby Iancu along those lines.

Lawyer Fraud and the Unified Patent Court (UPC)

Saturday 10th of February 2018 02:35:32 PM

Advocates, barristers, solicitors, attorneys and lawyers are typically in it for the money (justice being a “nice to have”)

Summary: Ethical lapses in the profession which many wrongly assume to be law-abiding and further discussion about never-ending lies from Team UPC, which strives to undermine the law in order to profit from frivolous litigation

TWO years ago we were told about fraud at the EPO. We were told this by reliable sources (based on their track record), but nobody with access to evidential material is courageous enough to come out and leak it. Seeing how large publishers (corporate media) or “the press” mostly disregards/ignores EPO scandals, maybe it’s not perceived to be worth the risk.

“Seeing how large publishers (corporate media) or “the press” mostly disregards/ignores EPO scandals, maybe it’s not perceived to be worth the risk.”A few days ago, serving somewhat of a blow/shock to the so-called ‘IP’ industry, an ‘IP’ lawyer was sentenced for 7 years. It’s a fraud case. Articles about that, e.g. this one, do not name the person or simply use a paywall to hide it. The term ‘IP’ (patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets etc.) is used extensively, so it’s hard to know if it relates to the USPTO (which does not deal with copyrights). The article says: “An IP lawyer with Big Law grooming now faces prison time after admitting to money laundering.”

We occasionally write about ethics in the patent world because we want to highlight, even to examiners, that there’s a lot of foul play. The other day David Hricik wrote about “Unethical Arbitration Clauses” (by which he refers to lawyer ethical rules). To quote:

This is a non-precedential Third Circuit decision, Smith v. Lindemann (3rd Cir. No. 16-3357 (Sept. 21, 2017), and it’s dicta, but it is worth noting because I have blogged about arbitration and awards that violate public policy, as set forth in lawyer ethical rules, before.

In this case, the client sought an order from the district court that her legal malpractice claim was not subject to arbitration because New Jersey prohibited agreements requiring arbitration of malpractice claims and, even if it were sometimes permitted, the client had to give informed consent.

Breach of duty, moreover, was noted just before the weekend in relation to another case:

Following a jury verdict of infringement and invalidity, the court granted in part defendant’s motion for judgment as a matter of law that plaintiff was equitably estopped from enforcing its anticoagulant patent.

Just to repeat (or put more emphasis on this), we are not suggesting that this whole occupation is scandalous and dishonest. Having said that, seeing the sorts of lies that come out from Team UPC we can’t help but feel like many lawyers are liars. That’s how they make money.

“Many people are led to believe that the job title “lawyer” implies adherence to the law; in practice, however, these people often use their skills to work around the law, to misrepresent the law, and engage in mischievous activity.”Case of point: CIPA et al (or Team UPC, UPC lobby or whatever one calls that cabal) is trying to mislead people like Sam Gyimah, conflating the EPO (or EPC) with UPC; the UK can remain in the EPO after Brexit (nothing new here), but not the UPC, as that introduces legal constructs that aren’t just unconstitutional and unconventional; why would a Britain outside the EU let British companies be subjected to court orders written in a language other than English in another country? There are many other issues.

Team UPC posted a link to outright delusional spin and lies from Bristows, basing on that some sort of insane vision which goes like this: “Start of UPC (ie, the PPA) in 2018 possible, but only if DE constitutional complaint declared inadmissible; certainly not if admitted for full trial (irresp. of whth Constitutional Ct refers to ECJ or not). If the latter, problem w approaching Brexit.”

“We don’t mind hurting the feelings of a few lawyers here and there if we merely name and shame a few of them (or some particular law firms).”First of all, it’s improbable that the complaint will be deemed inadmissible; we know enough about that and many parties approach by FCC did not even bother making a submission. Many inside Team UPC too have given up. And regardless of Germany, the UK cannot enter the UPC. It just cannot, short of mischief or violations of laws/constitution.

Many people are led to believe that the job title “lawyer” implies adherence to the law; in practice, however, these people often use their skills to work around the law, to misrepresent the law, and engage in mischievous activity. We don’t mind hurting the feelings of a few lawyers here and there if we merely name and shame a few of them (or some particular law firms). Not all lawyers are bad; far from that! But the presumption of innocence or honesty would be misplaced.

Joe Mullin Joins the EFF to Fight Mean Software Patents, Starting With Coverage About Unified Patents Defeating Sportbrain

Friday 9th of February 2018 10:59:17 PM

Related: CAFC Meddling in PTAB Affairs; Unified Patents Fights a Good Fight by Invalidating Software Patents


Joe Mullin’s Twitter account

Summary: The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) has just smashed another troublesome patent and Joe Mullin was there, this time in EFF clothing, to cover it

THE previous post spoke about patent trolls with USPTO-granted patents and the EFF’s response to them. The good news is, not only does the EFF tackle the right issues (it used to have a poorer and rather misguided strategy). The EFF has just hired Joe Mullin for activism/journalism against software patents and patent trolls — something he had done in a blog before some media companies took him on board. Eventually he must have realised that advocacy without the whole pretense of “balance” would be better use of his time; at least that’s what happened with me (more than a decade ago I wrote for media companies, but they did not give me sufficient freedom to express myself).

“The EFF has just hired Joe Mullin for activism/journalism against software patents and patent trolls — something he had done in a blog before some media companies took him on board.”“I’m happy to report I’m working at @EFF now,” he announced in Twitter, “working mostly on IP-related things.

“Here’s my first blog post,” he wrote after had published this piece about Sportbrain [1, 2, 3] (covered here before). To quote:

The importance of the US Patent Office’s “inter partes review” (IPR) process was highlighted in dramatic fashion yesterday. Patent appeals judges threw out a patent [PDF] that was used to sue more than 80 companies in the fitness, wearables, and health industries.

US Patent No. 7,454,002 was owned by Sportbrain Holdings, a company that advertised a kind of ‘smart pedometer’ as recently as 2011. But the product apparently didn’t take off, and in 2016, Sportbrain turned to patent lawsuits to make a buck.

A company called Unified Patents challenged the ’002 patent by filing an IPR petition, and last year, the Patent Office agreed that the patent should be reviewed. Yesterday, the patent judges published their decision, canceling every claim of the patent.

The ’002 patent describes capturing a user’s “personal data,” and then sharing that information with a wireless computing device and over a network. It then analyzes the data and provides feedback.

After reviewing the relevant technology, a panel of patent office judges found there wasn’t much new to the ’002 patent. Earlier patents had already described collecting and sharing various types of sports data, including computer-assisted pedometers and a system that measured a skier’s “air time.” Given those earlier advances, the steps of the Sportbrain patent would have been obvious to someone working in the field. The office cancelled all the claims.

That means the dozens of different companies sued by Sportbrain won’t have to each spend hundreds of thousands of dollars—potentially millions—to defend against a patent that, the government now acknowledges, never should have been granted in the first place.

Joe Mullin was debunking patent myths and naming trolls even recently (he had covered other topics too). He often referred to (and cited) EFF posts, but now he’s joining Ranieri and Nazer (there used to be more staff assigned to deal with the patent matters)‏. He’ll be working alongside them rather than writing about them. Mullin is a very knowledgeable person; I spoke to him on the phone last year.

Sportbrain’s patent has been “found invalid,” Unified Patents said some days ago (a day after it was confirmed). We saw that almost immediately because we’re subscribed to the RSS feed. To quote: “On February 6, 2018, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board issued a final written decision in Unified Patents Inc. v. Harry Heslop & Sportbrain Holdings, LLC, IPR2016-01464 invalidating all challenged claims of U.S. Patent 7,454,002, owned and asserted by Sportbrain Holdings, LLC. The ’002 Patent, which describes a system for monitoring and providing feedback on a user’s physical data, has been asserted 148 cases (17 of which were pending at the time of this decision). Defendants in these cases span across multiple industries and include such companies as Verizon, Fitbit, Microsoft, LG, TomTom, Garmin, Louis Vuitton, ZTE and Apple.”

“Joe Mullin was debunking patent myths and naming trolls even recently (he had covered other topics too).”Apple is named last. Apple very recently settled in patent dispute, shelling out $871,500. It could possibly just fight against that patent until the end, but it chose not to. Less than a million dollars is ‘slush funds’ to Apple. As the article notes, it recently paid far more to settle other patent cases.

PTAB has been doing very well lately and we’ll have a lot to say about it over the weekend. To quote some recent statistics: “On January 31, the PTAB Affirmed Examiners’ 101 Rejections for 9 Cases; Denied Reconsideration of 101 Rejections in 3 Cases and Reversed Examiners’ 101 Rejections in 2 Cases.”

“In the past 2-3 years — and not just owing to Alice — we often get the feeling that we’re finally ‘winning’ (as some might put it) and the US patent system gets reformed to better suit science and technology, not patenters and litigators.”So they deal with quite a few patent applications, not just patents that are either used in litigation or for threats of litigation. This helps limit patent scope. One journalist focused on patent matters said the other day that “Senator Susan Collins told @BloombergLaw the Special Committee on Aging is working to draft a bill to restrict certain types of patents on drugs, such as new formulations, to limit evergreening, reports @BronwynMixter…”

“Fantastic news,” I responded to her. “A push back against patent maximalism, which made the patent system lose its sight on purpose…”

In the past 2-3 years — and not just owing to Alice — we often get the feeling that we’re finally ‘winning’ (as some might put it) and the US patent system gets reformed to better suit science and technology, not patenters and litigators. That’s the desirable thing for a patent system anywhere.

The EFF, in Tackling Software Patent Trolls, Turns to Motivational Health Messaging; Craig Daniels Spills the Beans on Packet Intelligence

Friday 9th of February 2018 10:26:56 PM

Even without the founder, who died a few days ago, the EFF carries on with his battles

Summary: Even after the unfortunate death of John Barlow the EFF continues to expose and fight against patent trolls, whose victims would otherwise remain unnamed and their stories untold

THE USPTO granted plenty of terrible patents over the years. Many of these patents landed on the laps of patent trolls and Motivational Health Messaging is one such patent troll. We wrote about it before. Basically, patent trolls are engaging in blackmail using (typically) bogus patents, so they pick on relatively small companies that have a greater incentive to settle than to fight in court, potentially invaliding the patents. The EFF has one new story about this troll:

Trying to succeed as a startup is hard enough. Getting a frivolous patent infringement demand letter in the mail can make it a whole lot harder. The experience of San Francisco-based Motiv is the latest example of how patent trolls impose painful costs on small startups and stifle innovation.

Motiv is a startup of fewer than 50 employees competing in the wearable technology space. Founded in 2013, the company creates fitness trackers, housed in a ring worn on your finger.

In January, Motiv received a letter alleging infringement of U.S. Patent No. 9,069,648 (“the ’648 Patent”). The letter gave Motiv two options: pay $35,000 to license the ’648 Patent, or face the potential of costly litigation.

The ’648 Patent, owned by Motivational Health Messaging LLC (“MHM”), is titled “Systems and methods for delivering activity based suggestive (ABS) messages.” The patent describes sending “motivational messages,” based “on the current or anticipated activity of the user,” to a “personal electronic device.” It provides examples such as sending the message “don’t give up” when the user is running up a hill, or messages like “do not fear” and “God is with you” when a “user enters a dangerous neighborhood.” Simply put, the patent claims to have invented using a computer to send tailored messages based on activity or location.

To a certain degree, there’s a massive racket between patent lawyers (or law firms) and patent trolls because they create ‘business’ for each other. It’s hardly surprising that these law firms and trolls habitually attack the EFF for its work in this domain.

There’s another new troll story making the rounds right now. Craig Daniels explained how Sandvine got targeted by a patent troll called Packet Intelligence LLC. We wrote about it a few times before. Here’s how the story began:

The shot across the bow, the splash in the water that signalled an adversary had appeared on the horizon and was spoiling for a fight, came in February, 2016.

“All of a sudden my phone started ringing,” recalls Dave Caputo, the former CEO of network optimization company Sandvine.

“And it was a bunch of law firms, many of them based in Dallas [saying] that, ‘We would love to represent you in your patent lawsuit.’

“I had no idea what the calls were about and thought, well, something must have happened.”

What had happened was Civil Docket No. 2:16-CV-147, filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division, by a three-person company called Packet Intelligence LLC.

Sandvine had been targeted in lawsuit by a patent troll. And those phone calls, which began on Feb. 17, 2016, would herald the beginning of a 21-month legal odyssey for Caputo and his senior executives as they worked to stake a claim to their company’s innocence and avoid paying a US$13.8-million demand for damages, plus ongoing royalties on future sales.

It was an odyssey that would eventually swallow up to US$2 million of Sandvine money in legal fees and additionally emerge as a cautionary tale for otherwise unsuspecting technology companies in Waterloo Region.

These sorts of stories are familiar; it happens many times every single day in the US, causing a lot of harm to companies which actually produce something. Well, hopefully these trolls will die soon. US-based patent trolls are, in general, a dying breed.

In China, GUIs Are Not Patent-Enforceable and GUI Patents Are Not Algorithms, Contrary to New Spin

Friday 9th of February 2018 09:57:58 PM

Those aren’t computer programs but layouts

Summary: The patent microcosm is hoping to convince the public that in Core Wireless Licensing v LG Electronics there was some kind of triumph for software patents (at the Federal Circuit), but this has nothing to do with software (mere presentation) and China is pushing back against such patents, signaling a rethink about whether such patents should exist in the first place

AS odd as that may seem, the USPTO actually grants some patents on GUIs (and a high court defended one such patent last month). So does the EPO, with notable examples like a progress bar, slide to unlock, and even worse things (like one-click shopping).

It’s amazing, isn’t it? How shallow and superficial can some patents be? Do these even count as innovations at all? Not really.

So there’s this new irregular case. It stands out from the crowd. The patent maximalists keep pretending it’s about § 101. It’s not. It’s not about algorithms either. A few days ago one firm wrote:

The Federal Circuit continues to provide much needed guidance (and relief) in interpreting patent eligibility under 35 U.S.C. §101. In Core Wireless Licensing v. LG Electronics (Fed. Cir. January 25, 2018), the Federal Circuit affirmed the eligibility of a patent relating to an improved user interface for computing devices. The decision yields arguments and approaches for eligibility of software patents in general.

§ 101 was attempted as a defense, but the patent in question isn’t the Alice type. In China, by contrast, GUI patents have actually suffered a blow. There’s lots of spin about that, as one might expect.

“In China, by contrast, GUI patents have actually suffered a blow. There’s lots of spin about that, as one might expect.”A few days ago, copy-pasting Ran Wang and Xiaoyan Feng of Liu Shen & Associates in Beijing, IAM went with the misleading headline “China’s first court decision on GUI design patent infringement narrows avenues for protecting software” (but no, GUI patents are not software; there’s no algorithm associated with them).

Another such copy (‘prepared’ piece) was cross-posted to preserve the confusion. To quote:

Patent protection for software in China is fairly strong, and as this blog has chronicled over the last few years it has gotten stronger still. But when it comes to the design and look of software, and how users interact with it, a recent Beijing IP Court ruling suggests creators may face an uphill battle in asserting their rights against copycats.

Graphical user interfaces (GUIs) are a relatively new category under China’s design patent regime. But they have been a fast-growing field, as many of the country’s leading lights in tech are software-first companies. In the increasingly competitive smartphone field, operating system and app design are key battlegrounds between domestic players.

We wrote about that last weekend. It’s actually encouraging to see that even though SIPO became somewhat of a garbage dump/landfill of low-quality patents, Chinese courts are sometimes willing to stand in the way.

There might not be a future to GUI patents. Time will tell…

To Understand the Protection Racket Look Not at Microsoft But at Patent Trolls Which It Sponsors

Friday 9th of February 2018 09:25:27 PM

The ‘enforcers’ are Finjan et al.

Summary: An outline of patent activities which are connected to Microsoft, including the protection racket known as Azure IP Advantage

THE patent strategy which revolves around taxing GNU/Linux carries on at Microsoft. It’s alive and well, it's just 'dressed up' or marketed differently.

Erich Andersen (Corporate Vice President and Chief IP Counsel at Microsoft, based in Redmond) will never say that Microsoft is running a racket. Maybe he’ll even convince himself otherwise. Having recently driven that crazy “AI” hype, Microsoft’s Andersen now says: “During this time when customers are rapidly adopting #AI solutions across industries to solve important problems, Microsoft is helping to protect those investments by offering #AI patents as part of #AzureIPAdvantage…”

“The patent strategy which revolves around taxing GNU/Linux carries on at Microsoft.”Also, linking to IAM, he wrote: “One year after the launch of #AzureIPAdvantage, our commitment to protecting @Azure customers from IP claims remains strong and unmatched in the industry…”

What he does not say, however, is that Azure IP Advantage is a misnomer; it’s actually a protection racket. This week, for example, he also promoted software patents by citing the EPO’s latest stunt, which frames such patents as “Fourth Industrial Revolution”.

“What he does not say, however, is that Azure IP Advantage is a misnomer; it’s actually a protection racket.”“No surprise here,” he wrote, as “patent filings up at the EPO in “Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies”” (that’s software patents, by IAM’s own admission). Those sorts of buzzwords, “AI” included (EPO prefers “ICT” and “CII”), are nowadays routinely used to dodge the negative publicity of software patenting. Suffice to say, software patents are at the very heart of the racket (Azure just runs code), but after Alice their value is questionable at best.

The other day, piggybacking the gender slant, this event promoted software patents, relying on a Microsoft-sponsored patent troll called Finjan for lobbying. Coreena Brinck said that the USPTO “recently handed down a decision where software was found eligible for patentable: Finjan v Blue Coat Systems Inc.”

We wrote several articles about that and it’s not what they claim it to be. This same case was also mentioned on February 5th by Peter Keros. He focused on patents as corporate welfare (what Microsoft is pursuing) when they’re not just a loophole/instrument of tax evasion (very common). To quote:

Damages for patent infringement must be apportioned to the infringing features of an accused product and supported by substantial evidence. Finjan, Inc., v. Blue Coat Systems Inc., No. 2016-2520 (January 10, 2018) (precedential). After considering subject matter eligibility and infringement of the asserted patents, the Federal Circuit reviewed the damages awarded by the jury, reversing awards unsupported by substantial evidence and affirming awards properly apportioned.

Finjan, Inc. v Cisco Systems has also just been brought up in the following context:

The court denied defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s willful patent infringement claims for failing to sufficiently allege egregious behavior.

Microsoft-sponsored patent trolls keep harassing Microsoft’s competitors in court, fueling the above-mentioned protection racket. They want companies to either enter Azure or enter exclusive ‘clubs’ like AST. “AST members including IBM, Microsoft and Google,” IAM said the other day, “spend $2.5 million in latest IP3 patent buying programme,” noting:

AST has announced the results of its latest IP3 initiative which saw 15 of the defensive patent platform’s members participate, including Google, IBM, Microsoft and Ford.

In total they spent almost $2.5 million to buy 70 active assets in 19 portfolios with prices per lot ranging from $25,000 to $390,000; and an average selling price per family of $128,000. There was an average of 3.6 assets per family (up from 1.84 last year) with the largest lot that was acquired including 21 US patent filings (a lot could comprise multiple families).

IBM, Microsoft and other patent villains are basically at peace with each other because they all have a lot of patents; but what about smaller companies? Those are the companies that IBM and Microsoft go after, but not always directly. Several years ago Microsoft passed many of Nokia’s patents to this patent troll (MOSAID) and based on this new press release (via) Microsoft and Nokia keep feeding other patent trolls using key patents (like they did MOSAID). To quote:

This offering follows on the heels of the Telecommunications Portfolio I offering made in August of 2017 via AQUA Licensing. The previous portfolio consisted of 4,260 patent families. To date, buyers have been identified for a significant portion of the initial offering.

The new Telecommunications Portfolio II offering comprises 557 patent families, developed by Alcatel-Lucent / Bell Labs, Nokia Technologies and Nokia Networks.

These patents can thus be used to go after AWS clients or Microsoft rivals in the device space. Not everyone can afford membership in AST or RPX or whatever new pools they keep setting up. To avoid the perception that IBM is going to attack GNU/Linux with patents, the Open Invention Network (OIN) was set up more than a decade ago. Never mind if IBM sells patents to trolls like Finjan and OIN, by its own admission, cannot do anything against trolls.

The latest OIN addition is Hitachi, as announced in this press release a few days ago.

Open Invention Network (OIN), the largest patent non-aggression community in history, and Hitachi, Ltd. (TSE:6501) (Hitachi) announced today that Hitachi has joined as a community member. As an innovation partner for the IoT era through the advanced Social Innovation Business that leverage OT (operational technology) and IT, Hitachi is demonstrating its commitment to open source software as an enabler of innovation across a wide spectrum of industries.

“Hitachi was an early and enthusiastic supporter of open source. It helps businesses modernize their industrial applications with technologies that rely heavily on Linux and embedded Linux, like the Internet of Things (IoT),” said Keith Bergelt, CEO of OIN. “Given its substantial patent holdings, we are pleased that Hitachi has recognized the importance of participating in OIN as part of its IP strategy.”

They (OIN) may sound Linux-friendly, but they don’t fight software patents. It’s like an IBM (amongst others’) instrument/tool/front group. Here is what Linux Journal wrote about this:

Hitachi has joined the Open Invention Network, “the largest patent non-aggression community in history”. According to Norihiro Suzuki, Vice President and Executive Officer, CTO of Hitachi, “Open source technology, especially Linux, drives innovation in areas that are critical to the customers that we serve, including technologies such as servers, storage, cloud, converged applications, big data and IoT. By joining Open Invention Network, we are demonstrating our continued commitment to open source technology, and supporting it with patent non-aggression in Linux.” See the press release for more information.

“Microsoft does not love Linux. In fact, Microsoft hates Linux. It just doesn’t want people to see it, so attacks on GNU/Linux typically come through consultancies such as Accenture and patent trolls like Finjan.”OIN will not be able to protect clients of Microsoft’s rivals (or Microsoft’s rivals themselves) when some troll like Finjan or MOSAID (now known as Conversant) runs after them, so it’s a pretty toothless defender. Generally speaking, we expect many more lawsuits like the above. As Microsoft rarely sues directly (anymore) we’re left to analyse the passage of patents, passage of staff (like in Acacia) and the overall strategy.

Microsoft does not love Linux. In fact, Microsoft hates Linux. It just doesn’t want people to see it, so attacks on GNU/Linux typically come through consultancies such as Accenture and patent trolls like Finjan.

‘Women in IP’: When the Gender Card is Used to Distract From Patent Policy

Friday 9th of February 2018 08:20:06 PM

Focus on wealth, not gender

Summary: As various patent blogs turn to writing about (legitimate) issues of opportunities, the main subject people ought to be talking about is who benefits from patents in economic terms

THE EPO and the USPTO both use what’s sometimes known as the “gender card” (it’s not really a loaded term, but it has a negative connotation within some circle, just like “social justice warrior”, “virtue-signaling” and so on). They use it for marketing purposes. We have given examples over the years. This post isn’t about the groups that get associated with this debate (we’re not interested in that sort of debate); we just want to point out that sometimes, as in the case of a study from some months ago, genders and ethnic minorities get exploited to relay particular talking points, e.g. claims that propose false correlations, overlooking the connection between personal wealth and patents, instead focusing on race and gender.

“There is some news today about patent scope, notably patents on life. We would like to remain focused on such matters and not enter the potentially divisive realms of discrimination, intolerance and so on.”The question of gender is often brought up — at times unnecessarily — also in the software world, typically when the debate shifts from engineering to matters of ethics. That’s not because of a perception of engineering/gender (or even potential/opportunity) gap but a variety of other reasons. There’s a very long discussion at IP Kat about it (started earlier this week when “Merpel” wrote about diversity). Watchtroll also mentioned that a couple of days ago, citing this article about female lawyers. To quote:

A framed photo of trial consultant Tara Trask with a gaggle of lawyers and clients she advised on a patent case hangs in her office. The team smiles proudly outside a Texas courthouse, following a hard-fought win.

Two years later, when Trask set out to research the diversity of the intellectual property trial teams she’d worked with, something she hadn’t noticed in that photo jumped out: she was the only woman in a group of 13 white men.

In a sample of 50 attorneys in seven intellectual property trials she consulted on from January to August 2017, Trask found most were tried and led by white male attorneys. The majority were patent cases.

Women are underrepresented in many domains, not just law. And there are many reasons for why that happens. It’s not a good thing. Having said that, what troubles us at times is how the gender/race issue gets interjected to manipulate completely and patently unrelated debates, such as the above-mentioned distraction from the correlation between wealth and patenting (not related to either race or gender). There is some news today [1,2] about patent scope, notably patents on life. We would like to remain focused on such matters and not enter the potentially divisive realms of discrimination, intolerance and so on. Sadly, many people do in fact manipulate those things.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Federal Court rules controversial cattle genome patent invalid

    Australia’s cattle industry has scored a win against the US-based owners over a patent application it feared would put the brakes on improvement in Australia’s cattle herd.

    The Federal Court rejected the patent application, saying it was unclear in its scope, that it failed to adequality describe what the invention was, and whether there was an industrial application for it.

    Meat and Livestock Australia spends hundreds of millions of dollars on genetic research in cattle, and feared the patent application threatened Australian farmers’ access to important genomic testing.

  2. Supreme Court pregabalin hearing to have a big impact on UK pharma patent rights

    Next week’s UK Supreme Court hearing on the long-running patent dispute over pregabalin will be watched closely by life sciences innovators.

Fake ‘Articles’, ‘Debates’ and ‘Webinars’ From Lobbyists Including IBM’s David Kappos, IPO and IPLAC

Friday 9th of February 2018 07:46:17 PM

Related: The Patent Microcosm is Setting Up a Huge Number of Anti-§ 101 Events in an Effort to Thwart Alice and Promote Software Patents

Summary: Some of the familiar faces and groups turn up to lobby for patent maximalism, to bash PTAB and so on (serving their sponsors, who are patent bullies and patent law firms)

THE USPTO, which finds itself increasingly ‘supervised’ by PTAB (which affirms or overturns examiners’ decisions), is no longer granting patents as leniently as before.

Patent maximalists are therefore regrouping to “discuss the state of software and business method patent-eligibility in 2018″ in a new so-called ‘webinar’. We have seen many such ‘webinars’ lately. Many are about Alice and their goal is to nuke Alice. But it has not worked. Not yet anyway…

As it turns out, former USPTO Director David Kappos is basically still lobbying for patent maximalism. He writes papers in favour software patents while collecting money from oligarchs and large corporations such as IBM. This software patents lobbyist of IBM actually spent many years working exclusively for IBM and he now uses his USPTO connections in an effort to alter policy. He still lobbies; he has this new article, whose disclosure omits his lobbying activities. It says: “David J. Kappos is a partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP; he previously served as Undersecretary of Commerce and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, where he led the passage and implementation of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act of 2011. ”

What about his lobbying business? Funny how that’s just conveniently left out. On February 8th (yesterday) there was this “IPO Webinar–Early Reports and New Ideas on Exhaustion,” as one patent maximalist put it.The Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO), which is closely connected to IBM [1, 2], is a patent radicals’ front group, so this “webinar” promised to be pure lobbying. Patent Docs said the following about it: “The Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO) will offer a one-hour webinar entitled “Exhaustion Tamed? Early Reports and New Ideas after Lexmark” on February 8, 2018 from 2:00 to 3:00 pm (ET). Jorge Goldstein of Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox, PLLC; Brian Kacedon of Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner LLP; and William Krovatin of Merck & Co Inc. will discuss strategies and recent court cases..”

Notice who’s there. The patent microcosm. As usual, they are attempting to dominate or monopolise every single ‘debate’. Some of them are Koch-funded. The Kochs have an interest in Oil States — a case to be decided later this year by the highest US court. Watch how IPLAC (patent maximalists in the north of the US) ‘debates’ this case (also yesterday). Stacked panel to ‘discuss’ a key case? You bet:

The Intellectual Property Law Association of Chicago (IPLAC) Young Members Committee will be presenting a panel discussion entitled “There Will Be Blood (and Beer): A Brief Panel Discussion on Oil States Services LLC v. Greene’s Energy Group, LLC” on February 8, 2018 from 5:30 to 8:00 pm (CT) at the offices of Foley & Lardner in Chicago, IL. The panel will discuss Oil States Energy Services LLC v. Greene’s Energy Group, LLC, including the proceedings before the Supreme Court, and offer commentary on the issue of whether inter partes review violates the Constitution by extinguishing private property rights through a non-Article III forum without a jury.

In our previous post we wrote about the UPC lobby doing similar things in Europe. They set up their own exclusive ‘events’ or ‘forums’ or whatever they want to label these; the real purpose is to mislead and lobby officials.

Team UPC is Working Overtime to Impose UPC on Europe, Based on a Pile of Lies

Friday 9th of February 2018 07:14:06 PM


Stephen Jones from IP Kat (until recently) with Battistelli last month

Summary: The UPC lobby, which is a powerful pressure group controlled by the people who prepared UPCA for self enrichment, carries on lying to the public and to public officials, hoping that they would bless the UPCA based on misconceptions and in clear defiance of the law

TEAM UPC will never give up on the UPC. Neither will the management of the EPO, where Battistelli’s successor is not expected to be any better (based on what insiders oftentimes claim). AA Thornton & Co, based on this hours-old publication, is the latest to googlebomb the CIPA/EPO statement which we recently wrote about. As we said some days ago, a lot of money is being spent on this PR; they’re basically paying to link to an EPO press release which is clearly misleading. Some of them repeat everything in their corporate Web sites, but that doesn’t seem enough for them. They forcibly push it into every possible avenue/outlet, including Google News. This may be a coordinated lobbying effort, with someone like Sam Gyimah in their sight. We think we know the reason for the timing. Bristows’ Alan Johnson wrote some hours ago: “Following the Privy Council’s meeting, the approved Order must now be ‘moved’ on the floor of the Houses of Parliament to take effect; this is expected to be on Thursday 15 February.”

“As we said some days ago, a lot of money is being spent on this PR; they’re basically paying to link to an EPO press release which is clearly misleading.”But the UK cannot ratify; it’s not compatible with Brexit. This is where the ‘clever’ propaganda comes into play; it mentions UPC between the lines, but it’s actually intended to conflate/mix the UPC with EPO and give lesser informed readers the impression that they’re the same thing. The timing above may be why they keep bombing the media with this stuff. If some politicians research the news right now, they’ll see almost nothing but CIPA and Battistelli. Everything leads to the same lie, carefully constructed to make it seem like the UK is about to enter the UPC with no issues whatsoever.

A few hours ago, under the pseudonym "Kluwer Patent blogger" (almost certainly Bristows), Kluwer Patent Blog — now further shielded from negative comments about the UPC — spread a lot more lies regarding the UPC. “It is self-evident that the Unitary Patent system is good for Europe,” said the opening sentence. Lie. Right from the first sentence.

It’s all about Bristows’ friend, Mr. Ramsay:

Alexander Ramsay, chairman of the Preparatory Committee of the UPC said this at the Unitary Patent Package Conference, 8 and 9 february 2018 in The Hague. Ramsay, who has been on the dossier for ten years, five of them in the PrepCom, hailed the companionship and the ‘extremely dedicated people’ he has been working with.

What conference is this? Ask Kluwer. Christine Robben (“International Product Development” at Kluwer) wrote about it a few days ago: “Kick off of #UnitaryPatentPackage Conference 2018 in The Hague”

“Everything leads to the same lie, carefully constructed to make it seem like the UK is about to enter the UPC with no issues whatsoever.”“Nobody invited who hasn’t something (or a lot) to gain from UPC,” I told her. “Nice coup you got there…”

“The conference was not by invitation and open for registration for anybody,” she replied to me.

“So what they had there was another ‘echo chamber’ event, set up for lobbying purposes.”“I am guessing that speaking positions were not open to everyone and the entrance fees high,” I told her. No response from her since (maybe because she cannot refute that).

So what they had there was another ‘echo chamber’ event, set up for lobbying purposes. They will not get the ‘wrong’ people inside (definitely not as speakers!) and not have the ‘wrong’ views expressed. Pretty much like Kluwer Patent Blog after the new censorship-motivated restrictions…

The EPO’s Working Party on Quality is Battistelli’s Own Ministry of Truth

Friday 9th of February 2018 06:47:46 PM


Reference: Ministries of Nineteen Eighty-Four

Summary: In an effort to cover up the fact that quality of European Patents (EPs) is declining, which is easily demonsrable, the EPO keeps “banging on” the subject of “quality”, just like it does “SMEs”

THE EPO has reduced the quality of patents, whereas the USPTO — as we shall show this weekend — continues to improve quality.

Battistelli may be corrupt and very thick, but he too can tell that patent quality is declining (EPs are losing their value), so just like an oppressive regime with things like “Ministry of Truth” we now have a “Working Party on Quality”.

“Battistelli may be corrupt and very thick, but he too can tell that patent quality is declining (EPs are losing their value), so just like an oppressive regime with things like “Ministry of Truth” we now have a “Working Party on Quality”.”Welcome to North Korea. Yes, it’s actually called that! “Working Party on Quality”. Rhymes with Communist Party of China (CPC) — not the CPC EPO typically speaks of.

Everybody inside and outside the EPO knows that quality of patents and quality of service nosedives; it is actually measurable, so Battistelli keeps googlebombing subjects like “transparency” and “quality”. Today we saw “Engaging with users on patent quality” (warning: epo.org link) — you see? “Patent quality” right there, starting from the headline and then repeated endlessly in the body (count how many times they repeat the word “quality”). Here’s a passage:

The Standing Advisory Committee before the EPO (SACEPO) Working Party on Quality was created to engage with users and gather feedback on quality at the Office. It forms part of the EPO’s strategy to continuously improve its products, services and communication with users.

Quality, quality, and more quality. Repeat and repeat. It cannot be a lie, can it? Maybe people will actually believe it.

Links 9/2/2018: Cockpit 161, Freespire 3.0.6.5, PostgreSQL 10.2

Friday 9th of February 2018 11:38:40 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • It’s launch day for Sylabs: Promoting portable high-performance containers for Linux

    Today is launch day for Sylabs — a new company focused on promoting Singularity within the enterprise and high-performance computing (HPC) environments and on advancing the fields of artificial intelligence (AI), machine/deep learning, and advanced analytics.

    And while it’s launch day for Sylabs, it’s not launch day for the technology it will be promoting. Singularity has already made great strides for HPC and has given Linux itself more prominence in HPC as it has moved more deeply into the areas of scientific and enterprise computing. With its roots at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), Singularity is already providing a platform for a lot of heavy-duty scientific research and is expected to move into many other areas, such as machine learning, and may even change the way some difficult analytical problems are approached.

  • Sylabs launches Singularity Pro, a container platform for high performance computing
  • Sylabs Emerges from Stealth to Bring Singularity Container Technology to Enterprise Performance Computing
  • Singularity HPC Container Start-Up – Sylabs – Emerges from Stealth
  • Sylabs Brings Singularity Container Platform to Enterprises
  • Sylabs Startup forms Commercial Entity behind Singularity for HPC
  • 2017 LinuxQuestions.org Members Choice Award Winners

    The polls are closed and the results are in. We once again had some extremely close races and the large number of new categories this year certainly kept things interesting. Congratulations to each and every nominee.

  • Server
    • Why Mainframes Aren’t Going Away Any Time Soon

      IBM’s former systems and technology CTO explains when it makes sense to buy a mainframe and what the advantages are.

    • Starling Bank cashes in on open source Kubernetes for flexibility and agility

      UK fintech Starling Bank is building on the evolution of its architecture with plans to move to a cross-cloud approach supported by open source container orchestration platform Kubernetes.

    • Kubernetes for dev infrastructure

      I was initially assigned to solve an easy-sounding problem: make integration tests faster. There were a few hundreds of Selenium-based workflows, which were running sequentially and taking up to 10 hours to complete. The obvious solution was to parallelize them. The problem was that they were not designed to run concurrently and hence we had to either refactor all tests or provide an isolated copy of the ThoughtSpot system (a test backend) for every thread to run on. Redesigning tests might look like a cleaner solution, but it would require a tremendous effort from the whole engineering team and a lot of test-related changes in the product, so it was not feasible. We’ve decided to take the second approach, and that left me with the task, I’ve ended up solving with the help of Docker and Kubernetes: make it possible to quickly (in 2–3 minutes) spin up dozens of test backends with pre-loaded test data, run tests, tear them down, repeat.

    • Kubernetes vs Docker Swarm: A comparison of cloud container tools

      Containers are rising like a hot air balloon in the cloud market. These days, the CIO can hardly move for suggestions of one-shot-wonder tools to lighten the burden of IT infrastructure management. But when it comes to the battle of Kubernetes vs Docker, which programme comes out on top?

      Touted as silver bullet simplifiers of software update administration, both tools are great for transporting applications from one system to another without risking compatibility problems, missing files or unexpected errors. In the first instance, using a container to transport applications is much faster and better value than using a virtual machine, so either product is a good place to start for boosting cloud architecture efficiency.

  • Kernel Space
    • diff -u: Detainting the Kernel

      Sometimes someone submits a patch without offering a clear explanation of why the patch would be useful, and when questioned by the developers, the person offers vague or hypothetical explanations. Something like that happened recently when Matthew Garrett submitted a patch to disable a running kernel’s ability to detect whether it was running entirely open-source code.

      Specifically, he wanted to be able to load unsigned modules at runtime, without the kernel detecting the situation and “tainting” itself. Tainting the kernel doesn’t affect its behavior in any significant way, but it is extremely useful to the kernel developers, who typically will refuse to chase bug reports on any kernel that uses closed-source software. Without a fully open-source kernel, there’s no way to know that a given bug is inside the open or closed portion of the kernel. For this reason, anyone submitting bug reports to the kernel developers always should make sure to reproduce the bug on an untainted kernel.

    • Intel & AMD IOMMU Improvements Slated For Linux 4.16

      With the in-development Linux 4.16 kernel there are improvements to note for both AMD and Intel users.

    • Linux Foundation
    • Graphics Stack
      • AMDKFD GPUVM Support Updated For Radeon Discrete GPUs

        Many of you have been anxious to get ROCm/OpenCL compute working with the open-source Radeon Linux driver on modern GPUs while using a mainline kernel and that day continues inching closer.

        That long sought after goal should be achieved for Linux 4.17 and there are updated AMDKFD patches now available that work in that direction. But as noted previously, the Linux 4.17 mainline paired with working ROCm/OpenCL will initially be just for select GPUs while hardware like Vega will likely end up needing more time before it’s running off a mainline kernel for GPGPU compute.

      • XWayland Gets Initial Support For EGLStreams To Support NVIDIA’s Driver

        With the NVIDIA proprietary driver continuing to only support EGLStreams for their Wayland support until the new “Unix device memory allocator” project pans out, one of the big limitations has been no XWayland support for running X11 applications. Fortunately, that’s now changing.

        Besides needing a Wayland compositor patched with EGLStreams support in order to work with the NVIDIA proprietary Linux driver, there hasn’t been XWayland support with this approach. But Red Hat’s Lyude Paul today published initial support for using XWayland with EGLStreams.

      • RADV Vulkan Driver Now Exposes VK_EXT_external_memory_host

        RADV, the Mesa Radeon Vulkan driver, now has external memory host support via the VK_EXT_external_memory_host extension that was recently introduced in the Vulkan 1.0.66 update.

      • WattMan Support Coming For Radeon Polaris GPUs On Linux
  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • MATE 1.20 Released
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • The New KDE Slimbook II: A sleek and powerful Plasma-based Ultrabook

        To start with, it comes with a choice between an Intel i5: 2.5 GHz Turbo Boost 3.1 GHz – 3M Cache CPU, or an Intel i7: 2.7 GHz Turbo Boost 3.5 GHz with a 4M Cache. This makes the KDE Slimbook II 15% faster on average than its predecessor. The RAM has also been upgraded, and the KDE Slimbook now sports 4, 8, or 16 GBs of DDR4 RAM which is 33% faster than the DDR3 RAM installed on last year’s model.

      • New Slimbook KDE Plasma Ultrabook Rolled Out

        The KDE community and the Odin Group have announced a new version of the Slimbook, the KDE-branded laptop running Neon. While it’s an improvement over last year’s model, it’s still a tough sell against other laptops/ultrabooks.

      • KDE Slimbook II is a thinner, lighter, faster Linux laptop

        A year after partnering with Spanish PC maker Slimbook to release a Linux-powered laptop that would ship with the KDE desktop environment out of the box, the KDE team and Slimbook are back with a new model.

      • KDE Slimbook II Plasma-Based Linux Ultrabook Laptop Is Cheaper, More Powerful

        As of today, there’s a new KDE Slimbook Linux-powered, Plasma-based Ultrabook laptop available for sale and it comes with some impressive hardware specifications and a smaller price tag.

        Meet KDE Slimbook II, the second-generation of the KDE Slimbook laptop that emphasizes the widely-used KDE Plasma open-source desktop environment for GNU/Linux distributions. Build for running the KDE Neon Linux distro, the 1st-generation KDE Slimbook laptop was announced a year ago and offered some attractive features, including a 13.3-inch screen, faster SSDs, and latest Plasma desktop.

      • Who, wha, FOSDEM?

        Underneath the Konqui Pinebook is my KDE Slimbook. Someone was handing out Nopetopus stickers; I wish I had gotten more. My Slimbook is starting to look a little beat-up — which is good, from a Hitch-Hikers-Guide-to-the-Galaxy point of view, since it’s been baked under the suns of Kakrafoon^WAlmeria, shivered in the snows of Allosymanius Syneca^W^WBrussels. At the KDE booth we were also could show a second-generation machine: the KDE Slimbook II (in Spanish, their English site doesn’t mention it yet). A faster, brighter version of the Free-Software friendly laptop with Linux and KDE Plasma pre-installed. This generation is a little more angled / chunky than the previous generation. It might get fewer “why do you guys have Macbooks .. oh, hey” comments. So an aluminum but not-quite-clamshell look might be more distinctive.

      • A Decade of Plasma

        I realised that it’s now a decade of KDE releasing its Plasma desktop. The KDE 4 release event was in January 2008. Google were kind enough to give us their office space and smoothies and hot tubs to give some talks and plan a way forward.

        The KDE 4 release has gained something of a poor reputation, at the time we still shipped Kubuntu with KDE 3 and made a separate unsupported release for Plasma, but I remember it being perfectly useable and notable for being the foundation that would keep KDE software alive. It had been clear for sometime that Kicker and the other elements of the KDE 3 desktop were functional but unlikely to gain much going forward. When Qt 4 was announced back in (I’m pretty sure) 2004 Akademy in Ludwigsberg it was seen as a chance to bring KDE’s desktop back up to date and leap forward. It took 4 long years and to keep community momentum going we had to release even if we did say it would eat your babies.

      • Heading out of winter and into Spring

        In KDE, Plasma 5.12 has been released, and it is great! It has been released in time to make it into Kubuntu Bionic, our next big release which will become an LTS. Plasma 5.12 is a great fit there, since it is also an LTS. After living through the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerability early-exposure, it feels great to finally be back on track. We have it available right now in Artful (17.10) as well: https://kubuntu.org/news/plasma-5-12-arrives-in-backport-ppa-for-kubuntu-17-10-artful-aardvark/. I’m using it now.

      • KDE Applications 18.04 Schedule finalized
      • print-manager 0.4.0

        This last month I decided to do some work on print-manager, it’s code dates back to 2010, so it’s 8 years old now, my last commits where on 2014, after that Jan Grulich did the KF5/Qt5 port and last year I tried to do some improvements but only managed to do a single commit.

      • App popularity in Discover

        Currently, Discover sorts apps by popularity. In this case, popularity means “number of ratings”, and ratings come from user reviews. This is why GNOME Tweak Tool shows up first in Discover’s browse list: apparently it’s very popular among GNOME users, and they’ve written lots of reviews about it. We should all follow their lead and write some quality reviews about our favorite software; this helps the best apps bubble up to the top, and users love reading reviews from other users when determining whether or not to install an app.

      • SoK 2018 wrap-up report
    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • Entering the “home stretch” for GNOME 3.28

        Earlier this week I´ve released GNOME Maps 3.27.90 (even though I just read an e-mail about the deadline for the release tarballs had been postponed for one week just after uploading the tarball).

        This weekend I (like some 8000 others) participated in an exciting FOSDEM with lots of interesting talks and the week before that I gave presentation of GNOME Maps, and in particular the public transit functionality for TrafikLab (the sort of “developer community” driven by the Swedish organization Samtrafiken AB, who coordinates and aggregates data from all public transit operators, both commercial/private and regional/public ones.

      • Bastian Ilsø Hougaard: Behind the GNOME Booth, FOSDEM 2018

        Saturday was spent selling lots and lots of socks. I choose this year not to go to any talks and instead hangout with fellow GNOMEies in the booth and have a chat with bypassing users. I’m accumulating many advertising arguments for buying socks including that it allows you to have feet on your feet and that you have an excuse to say “GNOME Socks!” as much as you want, once you own a pair. Kat brought the awesome hoodies and then we had a big load of leftover t-shirts from GUADEC 2017 which we more or less sold (I think there’s still some 20 left in small). In the end we sold a 160 pairs of socks which is almost half the enormous stock of socks I purchased. When the evening came by and the booth had to close, we went to the GNOME Beer Event in La Bécasse, where I had my annual taste of Lambic Blanc, which is one of the few beers I really enjoy drinking.

      • Speaking at FOSDEM 2018 in Brussels, Belgium

        I think that we in the GNOME community can use data to make more informed decisions. For example, right now we’re fading out our Bugzilla instance and we don’t really have any way to measure how successful we are. In fact, we don’t even know what it would mean to be successful. But by looking at data we might get a better feeling of what we are interested in and what metric we need to refine to express better what we want to know. Then we can evaluate measures by looking at the development of the metrics over time. Spontaneously, I can think of these relatively simple questions: How much review do our patches get? How many stale wiki links do we have? How soon are security issues being dealt with? Do people contribute to the wiki, documentation, or translations before creating code? Where do people contribute when coding stalls?

      • Gnome without chrome-gnome-shell

        New laptop, has a touchscreen, can be folded into a tablet, I heard gnome-shell would be a good choice of desktop environment, and I managed to tweak it enough that I can reuse existing habits.

        I have a big problem, however, with how it encourages one to download random extensions off the internet and run them as part of the whole desktop environment. I have an even bigger problem with gnome-core having a hard dependency on chrome-gnome-shell, a plugin which cannot be disabled without root editing files in /etc, which exposes parts of my destktop environment to websites.

  • Distributions
    • Best lightweight Linux distro of 2018

      Modern Linux distros are designed to appeal to a large number of users who run modern hardware.

      As a result, they have become too bloated for older machines, even if you manually delete files. Without a healthy dollop of system memory and an extra core or two, these distros may not deliver the best performance.

      Thankfully, there are many lightweight distros, trimmed and tweaked by expert hands, which can be used to breathe new life into older hardware.

      But there’s one caveat to bear in mind when working with lightweight distros – they usually manage to support ancient kit by cutting away just about everything you take for granted, such as wizards and scripts which make everyday tasks easier.

    • Reviews
      • What Is Kali Linux, and Do You Need It?

        If you’ve heard a 13-year-old would-be hacker talking about how 1337 they are, chances are, Kali Linux came up. Despite it’s script kiddie reputation, Kali is actually a real tool (or set of tools) for security professionals.

        Kali is a Linux distribution based on Debian. Its goal is simple; include as many penetration and security audit tools as possible in one convenient package. Kali delivers, too. Many of the best open-source tools for conducting security tests are collected and ready to use.

    • New Releases
      • Freespire 3.0.6.5 released

        Today we are releasing Freespire 3.0.6.5 which is a bug fix and incremental release of the Freespire 3.0 series. We also added some features and applications that users wanted us to include in the distribution. With this release we fixed several issues.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • Official KDE Plasma 5.12 Release Now in Tumbleweed

        KDE Plasma 5.12 transitioned from it beta version of 5.11.95 to the official release in an openSUSE Tumbleweed snapshot earlier this week.

        On the same day of the upstream release, Tumbleweed snapshot 20180206 brought the new desktop software to its thousands of rolling release users. Improved performance and several new features are available in Plasma 5.12 like Wayland-only Night Color feature that allows adjustments to the screen color temperature to reduce eye strain and the System Activity and System Monitor display per-process graphs for the CPU usage. The new KDE Store offers a wide selection of addons that are ready to be installed. Plasma 5.12 is the second long-term support (LTS) release from the Plasma 5 team and will be the version used in openSUSE’s traditional distribution openSUSE Leap 15, which is expected to be released this spring.

      • OpenSUSE Tumbleweed Already Shipping KDE Plasma 5.12, Mesa 18.0
      • OpenSUSE Leap 15 Will Ship With Plasma Wayland Option
      • Plasma 5.12 Brings Wayland to Leap

        This Tuesday KDE released the latest Long Term Support (LTS) version of the Plasma desktop 5.12.

        A key point in this new release is that Wayland support was extensively worked on and is now suitable as part of the Long Term Support guarantees. In particular, the Plasma session in Wayland now plays nicer with multiple screens, and has added support for screen rotation and touchscreen calibration. It also gained a new exclusive feature, Night Color, which removes blue light from the screen at night time in a similar fashion to Redshift, which only works in X11.

        This means that the upcoming openSUSE Leap 15 will offer a far more complete Wayland experience installed by default. It will just be a matter of selecting “Plasma (Wayland)” in the session list of the display manager before logging in. Nothing will change for Tumbleweed users, which had already a Wayland session available since Plasma 5.4.

    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • DebConf18: Call for Proposals

        The DebConf Content team would like to call for proposals in the DebConf18 conference, which will take place in Hsinchu, Taiwan, from 29 July to 5 August 2018.

      • Debian LTS work, January 2018
      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Policy Forming For Allowing Snaps By Default

            Steve Langasek of Canonical has laid out a draft proposal about allowing Snaps to be shipping by default with the upcoming Ubuntu 18.04 LTS release.

            In Ubuntu MATE 17.10 there were the first Snaps by default but for Ubuntu 18.04 proper is when there should be Snaps installed by default.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Open Up the Source Code to Lock Down Your Data

    Regular readers probably already know this, but the main consideration that persuaded me to try Linux was security. With the many devastating breaches and unsettling privacy encroachments revealed in the past few years, I wanted to take control my digital life.

    My journey enriched my digital life in many other ways, some of which I’ve related in previous columns. In this installment, I want to pay special attention to that first pivotal step I took by discussing the distinct advantages Linux provides to the security-minded. Digital security may be a lifelong pursuit, but I hope that by sharing my experience, I can encourage others to appreciate the basics.

  • Why I want you to run for the OSI Board

    In the world of tech, we fit across three generations of contributors to free and open source software–those who were involved in the early days of free software; those who found places in the community after open source had been established; and the group paultag humorously dubbed the GNU generation–none of us have lived in a world without the explicit concept of user freedom.

    Within my cadre of FOSS-loving millennials, several of us have fairly similar stories, both inside of our FOSS lives and out: we all had formative life experiences of financial hardship, and tech helped us emerge into comfortable, middle-class lifestyles. We’re all community-focused and have worked as community managers. We’ve been finalists for the same jobs.

    That is to say, while we have different opinions and different outlooks, we all come from fairly similar places.

  • FOSDEM: The Third Decade of Open Source

    This weekend I spoke at FOSDEM in Brussels to deliver the opening conference keynote. My subject was “The Third Decade of Open Source” and as OSI President I summed up the main events of the last 20 years, some of the key facts behind them and then offered five trends that will shape the next decade.

  • Open Source Software: 20 Years and Counting

    When the decision was made to follow the label open source, a rift opened up within the free software movement. Classical adherents of the traditional values – Stallman in particular – viewed the Open Source Initiative as pandering to corporate interests, concerned purely with the marketability of the idea, and less with the social and ethical values.

    The debate still rages on, in 2016 Richard Stallman posted on the GNU website that “open source misses the point of free software” and that “supporters of open source considered the term a marketing campaign for free software…while not raising issues of right and wrong that they might not like to hear.”

    Disagreements aside, the value of open source to the tech industry in the past twenty years is incredible. Fuelling a generation of thinkers and tinkerers and a whirlwind of technological advances, it will continue to grow and shape our digital future.

    In an increasingly digitized world, the core values of the movement are ones that we should consider as we move forward.

  • The cpu_features library

    “Write Once, Run Anywhere.” That was the promise of Java back in the 1990s. You could write your Java code on one platform, and it would run on any CPU implementing a Java Virtual Machine.

    But for developers who need to squeeze every bit of performance out of their applications, that’s not enough. Since the dawn of computing, performance-minded programmers have used insights about hardware to fine tune their code.

  • Google Rolls Out cpu_features Library

    Google’s cpu_features library makes it easier for detecting modern CPU capabilities like FMA, SSE, and AVX extensions when writing hand-tuned code.

  • 3 steps to reduce a project’s failure rate [Ed: "Open Decision Framework" the latest Red Hat openwashing sound bite]

    It’s no secret that clear, concise, and measurable requirements lead to more successful projects. A study about large scale projects by McKinsey & Company in conjunction with the University of Oxford revealed that “on average, large IT projects run 45 percent over budget and 7 percent over time, while delivering 56 percent less value than predicted.” The research also showed that some of the causes for this failure were “fuzzy business objectives, out-of-sync stakeholders, and excessive rework.”

  • Symphony Now Available on OpenFin Through Open Source Contribution to Symphony Software Foundation

    OpenFin, the desktop operating system built specifically for the needs of capital markets, announced today that it has publicly contributed code to the Symphony Software Foundation that allows, for the first time, any OpenFin customer to deploy Symphony Chat on the OpenFin operating system. The integration, currently in beta testing, enables seamless deployment and interoperability of Symphony alongside the expanding ecosystem of applications already running on OpenFin.

  • 2 startups are joining forces — and together they could pose a threat to Bloomberg

    Symphony, a messaging service that has gained some traction among Wall Street firms, has been integrated into OpenFin, an operating system built for financial-services, the two companies announced Thursday.

    OpenFin hosts more than a hundred applications on its platform, and the integration means Symphony will be “interoperable” with those apps, the same way social media apps on your phone are able to talk with one another.

    “By enabling Symphony to run on the OpenFin operating system, we are making it easy for our mutual customers to unify the Symphony desktop experience with their other OpenFin-based apps,” Mazy Dar, chief executive of OpenFin, said of the news.

  • Gleif and Swift debut open source BIC-to-LEI mapping

    The Global Legal Entity Identifier Foundation (GLEIF) has published the first monthly relationship file that matches a Business Identifier Code (BIC) assigned to an organization against its Legal Entity Identifier (LEI).
    With the launch of this open source file, GLEIF and SWIFT have pioneered a cooperation model that, for the first time, enables market participants to link and cross-reference these key entity identifiers free of charge. This will significantly streamline entity verification processes and reduce data management costs.

  • Events
    • Percona Announces Tutorial Schedule for Seventh Annual Percona Live Open Source Database Conference
    • FSFE Assembly at 34C3: Wir taten was

      In December 2017, the Chaos Communication Congress moved for the first time onto the Messegelände Leipzig. The FSFE came along and as in recent years, our assembly attracted a lot of visitors. Together with EDRi, for the first time we have been setting up a cluster called “Rights & Freedoms” with our own stage for multiple sessions. Although there have been some organisational issues, this Cluster was a big success and during three days, it has been visited by thousands of people.

      I am happy to see the FSFE assembly again growing every year and having the possibility to bring our message of Software Freedom to the people at the Chaos Communication Congress. The CCC is Germany’s biggest annual meetup of hackers and political activists and is “considered one of the largest events of this kind, alongside the DEF CON in Las Vegas” (wikipedia).

  • Web Browsers
    • Chrome
      • Chrome 65 Beta: CSS Paint API and the ServerTiming API

        Unless otherwise noted, changes described below apply to the newest Chrome Beta channel release for Android, Chrome OS, Linux, Mac, and Windows.

      • Chrome 65 Now In Beta With The CSS Paint API

        Google released the latest beta of the Chrome/Chromium web-browser today. Chrome 65 Beta isn’t as exciting as some past browser updates, but there are still some new additions to note.

      • Chrome Adding Shorter Shortcut For Bookmarks: Windows and Linux Only.

        Improvements to accessibility are always welcome additions to any software and web browsers are no exception. Clearly, we are fans of Chrome and that includes Google’s browser in all its forms across every available platform. So, we celebrate with all the non-Chrome OS users when developers bring refinements to the world’s most popular window to the web.

  • Databases
    • Release 10.2

      Release date: 2018-02-08

    • PostgreSQL 10.2 Released With A Ton Of Security & Bug Fixes

      PostgreSQL 10.2 is now available as the latest point release to PostgreSQL 10.

      While PostgreSQL 10.0 brought a ton of new features and improvements when released last October, these point releases are focused on just improving the stability and fixes for this popular database system.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • BSD
    • a2k18 Hackathon preview: Syncookies coming to PF

      One eagerly anticipated item is the arrival of TCP syncookies (read: another important tool in your anti-DDoS toolset) in PF. Henning Brauer (henning@) added the code in a series of commits on February 6th, 2018, with this one containing the explanation

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • design notes on inline caches in guile

      Next, there are the arithmetic operators: addition, multiplication, and so on. Scheme’s arithmetic is indeed polymorphic; the addition operator + can add any number of complex numbers, with a distinction between exact and inexact values. On a representation level, Guile has fixnums (small exact integers, no heap allocation), bignums (arbitrary-precision heap-allocated exact integers), fractions (exact ratios between integers), flonums (heap-allocated double-precision floating point numbers), and compnums (inexact complex numbers, internally a pair of doubles). Also in Guile, arithmetic operators are a “primitive generics”, meaning that they can be extended to operate on new types at runtime via GOOPS.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • RISC-V gains momentum as it moves from MCUs to Linux-friendly SoCs

        The open source RISC-V ISA has evolved quickly into silicon, thanks to help from companies like SiFive and Microsemi. SiFive’s HiFive Unleashed board should arrive less than two years after SiFive announced its first Linux-driven Freedom SoCs.

        It’s been two years since the open source RISC-V architecture emerged from computer labs at UC Berkeley and elsewhere and began appearing in soft-core implementations designed for FPGAs, and over a year since the first commercial silicon arrived. So far, the focus has primarily been on MCU-like processors, but last October, SiFive announced the first Linux-driven RISC-V SoC with its quad-core, 64-bit bit Freedom U540 (AKA U54-MC Coreplex). A few days ago at FOSDEM, SiFive opened pre-sales for an open source HiFive Unleashed SBC that showcases the U540.

      • SiFive releases Linux SoC processor and board

        SiFive Inc. (San Mateo, Calif.), a startup that is offering processor cores that comply with the RISC-V open source architecture, has launched a Linux-capable RISC-V based processor chip, the Freedom U540 SoC.

      • Chip Embarks As First Linux-Capable RISC-V Based SoC

        SiFive launches what it calls the industry’s first Linux-capable RISC-V based processor SoC. The company recently demonstrated the first real-world use of the HiFive Unleashed board featuring the Freedom U540 SoC, based on its U54-MC Core IP. During the demo, SiFive provided updates on the RISC-V Linux effort, surprising attendees with an announcement that the presentation had been run on the HiFive Unleashed development board. With the availability of the HiFive Unleashed board and Freedom U540 SoC, SiFive has brought to market the first multicore RISC-V chip designed for commercialization, and now offers the industry’s widest array of RISC-V based Core IP.

      • PIXO Pixel – Open Source LED Display for Makers

        Sean Hodgins is an inventor and maker interested in purposing current technologies in new and different ways. He’s currently running a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter for the PIXO Pixel, an open source RGB display that controls 256 LEDs.

      • AFRL, NextFlex leverage open-source community to create flexible circuit system

        Lightweight, low-cost and flexible electronic systems are the key to next-generation smart technologies for military as well as consumer and commercial applications.

        An Air Force Research Laboratory-led project in conjunction with NextFlex, America’s Flexible Hybrid Electronics Institute, has resulted in the first ever, functional samples of flexible Arduino circuit board systems made by using a flexible hybrid electronics manufacturing process, setting the stage for smart technologies for the internet of things and sensor applications like wearable devices.

  • Programming/Development
    • The State of OpenJDK In Early 2018

      Oracle’s Mark Reinhold spoke at last weekend’s FOSDEM conference about the state of OpenJDK for open-source Java.

      Reinhold’s presentation covered the bumpy OpenJDK 9 release and then a look ahead to their next six-month release cadence for future OpenJDK releases. He sought to relieve some who feared more frequent breakage and about the handling of new features/functionality in Java and more. Long story short, Oracle hopes for a smooth transition.

Leftovers
  • Science
  • Health/Nutrition
    • Alarm grows as norovirus outbreak explodes at Olympics; cases quadruple in days

      With the opening ceremony set for Friday, an outbreak of the highly infectious gastrointestinal bug norovirus already has a solid lead at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in South Korea.

      In just a few days, official case counts have nearly quadrupled, according to multiple reports from The New York Times. The tally was 32 just two days ago but quickly climbed to 86. Then another 42 cases were confirmed by Thursday night, bringing the total to 128 around the Olympic sites.

      Officials at the games first announced the outbreak of the virus—also called the “winter vomiting bug”—on Tuesday. Security personnel were the first to test positive, and about 1,200 of the security staff were sequestered in their rooms at the time. About 1,100 people, some non-security personnel, were still in quarantine on Thursday. South Korea deployed 900 military personnel to make up for the quarantined security workers.

      But the infection has now spread beyond the security staff to Olympics Organizing Committee staff, venue personnel, and even cafeteria workers. Hong Jeong-ik from South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control told the Times that officials were testing food and water to try to identify the source of the infection. “We still haven’t figured out the source yet. It’s going to take some time,” he said.

  • Security
  • Defence/Aggression
    • [Joke] Military Refuses to Participate in Trump’s Parade, Citing Bone Spurs

      The Pentagon has turned down Donald J. Trump’s request for a grand military parade in Washington, D.C., citing a sudden outbreak of bone spurs that would prevent men and women in uniform from participating.

      Harland Dorrinson, a Pentagon spokesman, said that, within an hour of Trump’s request, more than a hundred thousand military personnel complained that they were suffering from acute cases of bone spurs that would make marching in such a parade a painful ordeal.

      “In the history of the U.S. military, we have never experienced a bone-spur epidemic of this magnitude,” the spokesman said. “Regrettably, however, we have no choice but to issue thousands of deferments.”

    • Vets and military families don’t want to be props in Trump’s fantasy

      Donald Trump, whose tastes always lean towards the more garish end of the authoritarian leader scale, has longed for a Soviet-style military parade to bolster his ego since before he even took office. He reportedly tried to get a military march, with tanks included, for his inauguration, and bragged in January 2017 that he wanted the military “marching down Pennsylvania Avenue” and “flying over New York City and Washington, D.C., for parades.” The Pentagon put him off this desire for a year, but The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that military brass may now cave into the boy-chief’s demands for a propaganda parade.

      Administration officials seem to be trying to spin this terrible idea by invoking France’s Bastille Day parade as a comparison, instead of the parades of military dictatorships that captured Trump’s imagination long before he went to Paris last summer. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, always ready to be shamelessly dishonest, claimed the parade was “a celebration at which all Americans can show their appreciation” for the military.

      Many active duty and former military personnel, however, do not agree with Sanders that this is about appreciating the military. Legal and social pressures tend to keep most active duty service members silent on political matters, but there’s good reason to believe that many people who have actually served — which the president famously used his “bone spurs” to avoid doing — don’t appreciate being used as props in Trump’s narcissistic pageantry.

    • Maldives sends out envoys to ‘friendly nations’ of China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia; India not on list

      Amid intensifying political turmoil in Maldives, the tiny Indian Ocean archipelago nation has decided to send out envoys to “friendly nations”, including China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. India, geographically the nearest country from the islands, however, is not a part of this list.

      A press release from the office of the President of the Maldives said three envoys have departed for “friendly nations of the Maldives”, and that they will “provide updates on the current situation”.

      The choice of the three countries isn’t surprising, especially given the close ties Maldives has enjoyed with China, and the growing Islamic influence on the country under Abdulla Yameen has meant it has grown closer to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia as well.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Julian Assange loses initial bid to overturn British arrest warrant

      A judge in London yesterday rejected an application by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to withdraw a British arrest warrant issued against him in 2012. In a judgment full of obvious contradictions, she ruled that way even though a Swedish-initiated European arrest warrant—the trigger for the British warrant—was cancelled in May 2017.

      Despite the trumped-up Swedish government “sexual assault” allegations against Assange being dropped long ago, he still faces immediate arrest if he steps outside the Ecuadorian embassy, where he has been confined for five and a half years in a tiny, windowless room, 15 feet by 13, without access to sunlight, fresh air or exercise.

    • Julian Assange: What is his current legal predicament? How could the Wikileaks Founder leave Ecuador’s embassy?

      Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for almost six years, and there is no clear end to the saga after a court said a warrant for his arrest still stands.

      Westminster Magistrates’ court upheld the UK arrest warrant, saying despite the fact that rape and sexual assault charges Mr Assange was originally wanted for in Sweden had now been dropped, he was still wanted for refusing to surrender to bail “without reasonable cause”, which is a criminal offence.

    • Did WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange reach out to Sean Hannity to dish ‘leaked’ info on Senate intel Dem’s texts?

      Fox News on Thursday published a “breaking” news story about Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, having contact with a lobbyist supposedly linked to Russian oligarch.

    • Fox News Hypes ‘Questionable’ Texts From Mark Warner That Republicans Read Months Ago

      Text messages from the top Democrat in the Senate investigating Trump and Russia were not scandalous to Republicans who read them months before Fox News tried to turn them into a scandal.

      The network broke into its regular programming Thursday evening as anchor Martha MacCallum hyped “brand new text messages revealed exclusively by Fox News that reveal a questionable relationship between the top Democrat in the Senate’s Russia investigation and a lobbyist representing a Russian oligarch,” in a report from chief national correspondent Ed Henry.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Thawing Arctic Permafrost Hides a Toxic Risk: Mercury, in Massive Amounts

      Rising temperatures are waking a sleeping giant in the North—the permafrost—and scientists have identified a new danger that comes with that: massive stores of mercury, a powerful neurotoxin, that have been locked in the frozen ground for tens of thousands of years.

      The Arctic’s frozen permafrost holds some 15 million gallons of mercury. The region has nearly twice as much mercury as all other soils, the ocean and the atmosphere combined, according to a new study published Monday in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

    • EPA Chief Scott Pruitt Suggests Global Warming is Not a “Bad Thing”

      Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt admitted this week that global warming is occurring, but questioned whether climate change might not be good for humans. Pruitt was speaking on Las Vegas channel KSNV, which is owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group.

    • What the hell is a climate model—and why does it matter?

      Just a few years ago, the conventional wisdom held that you couldn’t attribute any single extreme weather event to climate change. But now scientists increasingly can and do state the odds that human actions caused or exacerbated specific droughts and hurricanes.

      One big reason for the change is that the science of climate modeling is becoming increasingly powerful as improvements in technology, techniques, and data sharing allow researchers to set up novel experiments or simply run many more of them.

  • Finance
    • Before He Died, a New York Taxi Driver Wrote About How the Gig Economy Ruined His Life

      Schifter’s note (which Facebook has since taken down), posted hours before he died, chronicles the economic struggles of a livery driver in New York. He says he worked at least 100 hours every week, and still ended his career in financial ruin.

    • Finnish state to sell off 525 million euro stake in Telia

      The Finnish state’s investment firm Solidium has announced that it plans to offer all of its shares in the Nordic and Baltic telecoms firm Telia in an off-market sale.

      Solidium owns just over 137 million Telia shares, or some 3.2 percent of the corporation.

    • Grubhub drivers are contractors—not employees—judge rules

      In a court opinion released Thursday by US Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley, “the Court finds that Grubhub has satisfied its burden of showing that Mr. Lawson was properly classified as an independent contractor.”

    • Big Tech deserves no gratitude for dodging its US taxes

      Apple apparently expects an outpouring of national gratitude for avoiding $40 billion in U.S. taxes. President Trump and his fellow Republicans are happy to oblige, since handing huge tax cuts to wealthy corporations is one of the principal purposes of their new tax law. But the rest of us can be excused for withholding our applause.

    • Oklahoma schools go on four-day weeks so teachers can make rent by working at Walmart on Mondays

      As a result, the state is going broke. Teachers haven’t gotten a raise in 10 years and the only way they can afford to accept the pay — third-worst in the nation — is by negotiating a four-day school week in 90 districts, freeing teachers up to take jobs at Walmart on Mondays to make ends meet.

      [...]

      Teachers are especially hard hit: their health plan was replaced with a private system that eats up more than $1000/month for a family of three — one teaching aide was actually paying to work her job, spending $200/month more on health insurance than she was paid in salary. Teachers make ends meet with public housing vouchers and food stamps, and school food-bank drives sometimes give their leftovers to hungry teachers and their families.

    • Twitter turns first profit ever, but problems remain

      Twitter beat Wall Street’s cautious expectations with its first quarterly profit in history, but that isn’t going to solve the company’s broader problems any time soon.

      The company isn’t alone in dealing with abuse, fake accounts and attempts by Russian agents to spread misinformation. But with its troubles compounded by a revolving door of executives and stagnant user growth, Twitter has been facing questions about just who’s minding the store. Every time Twitter tries to respond to a problem, it’s either not good enough, or some other problem emerges.

    • Like it or not, the future of cryptocurrency will be determined by bureaucrats

      Denizens of the cryptocurrency world ought to get used to rubbing shoulders with regulators. The dark underbelly of the bonanza in initial coin offerings, rising concerns about the security of cryptocurrency exchanges, and a rush of “Main Street” investors to the scene have helped convince bureaucrats across the globe that cryptocurrency markets deserve a lot more attention. As a US Senate hearing illustrated this week, however, the question of how best to apply that attention is head-achingly complicated.

    • As Conservative Group Grows In Influence, Financial Dealings Enrich Its Leaders

      Well before John Tillman began running the Illinois Policy Institute a decade ago, the nonprofit think tank was calling for major reforms to state government, especially its finances.

      But few in Springfield — or elsewhere in Illinois — paid attention.

      That changed when Tillman relaunched the institute in 2007.

      The organization steadily expanded its work and influence after the conservative activist took over, while contributions shot up from about $341,000 in 2007 to $6.4 million in 2016 — a nearly 19-fold increase in a decade.

    • Markets Right Now: Dow plunges 1,000 as market swoons again

      The Dow Jones industrial average plunged more than 1,000 points as a weeklong market swoon continued.

      The Dow is 10 percent below the record high it set just two weeks ago, putting it in what is known on Wall Street as a “correction.”

      The Standard & Poor’s 500, the benchmark for many index funds, is also 10 percent below the record high it set two weeks ago.

      Worries about inflation set the market rout in motion last Friday, and many market watchers have been predicting a pullback after the market’s relentless march higher over the past year.

      The Dow dropped 1,032 points, or 4.1 percent, to 23,860.

    • Tesla burns through $2 billion in 2017

      Tesla reported record revenue for 2017, floated by customer deposits of the recently announced Semi truck and Roadster sports car. Despite its optimistic sales numbers, Model 3 production issues and cash flow problems haunt the company, but Tesla insists its on track to meet its production goals of 5,000 cars a week by mid-2018.

      Tesla reported $3.3 billion in revenue, which was expected, but also posted a $771 million quarterly loss — its largest quarterly loss ever. The company reported a negative free cash flow of $276.7 million. And it reported a net loss of $2.24 billion in 2017, a significant increase over the $773 million net loss it reported in 2016.

    • What Are Altcoins, and Why Do They Exist?

      Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency, but, technically, it’s a few other things. It’s software that people run (Bitcoin Core), and an underlying blockchain that keeps track of who has which Bitcoins.

      While the concept of a blockchain was invented by the creator of Bitcoin, Bitcoin has no monopoly on blockchain technology. Other people can create their own cryptocurrencies and their own blockchains, and that’s generally what cryptocurrencies are.

    • CEOs Get Paid a Lot? NYT Says ‘Well, Actually…’ to This ‘True but Misleading’ Fact

      Since the rise of the “fake news” panic in late 2016, corporate media’s focus on factchecking has rapidly increased in scope and urgency. Positioning themselves as a bulwark against lies and disinformation, major media outlets play up their role of truth sheriff, out to expose liars and manipulators. This mission, combined with a desire for “both sides” balance (FAIR.org, 5/3/17), often leads to rather goofy pedantry—and outright errors.

      Take, for example, the New York Times’ recent factcheck (2/1/18) of Rep. Joseph Kennedy III’s claim, made after Trump’s State of the Union, that “top CEOs making 300 times the average worker is not right.” The Times‘ Linda Qiu deemed this statement “true, but misleading.” How can something be true but also mislead?

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Los Angeles Times sold to local billionaire for $500 million

      The agreement between Los Angeles-based medical entrepreneur Dr Patrick Soon-Shiong and Tronc Inc. marks the latest instance of a rich, civic-minded individual buying a newspaper from a big corporation.

      iSoon-Shiong is a major shareholder of Chicago’s Tronc Inc, one of the richest men in Los Angeles and, according to Forbes, the nation’s wealthiest doctor, with a net worth of $7.8 billion.

    • Seattle says Facebook has violated its political ad transparency law

      Under state law — specifically a municipal code called “commercial advertisers’ duty to report” — advertisers who provide political advertising during a campaign must have the following available: the names and addresses of the people it accepted the ads from, the exact nature and extent of the advertising, and the “consideration and the manner of paying.” Though the law was initially enacted in 1977, it is interpreted to apply to all forms of advertisements, including print, television, radio, and yes, internet.

    • Russian accounts used Tumblr in election influence campaign

      Kremlin-linked accounts used the blogging platform to pose as black activists to promote their messages, according to researcher Jonathan Albright and BuzzFeed News.

    • Russiagate or Intelgate?

      Referring to the memo whose preparation was overseen by Republican Congressman Devin Nunes and whose release was authorized by President Trump, and to similar reports likely to come, Cohen, having for years researched Soviet-era archive materials (once highly classified), understands the difficulties involved in summarizing such secret documents, especially when they have been generated by intelligence agencies. They must be put in the larger political context of the time, which can be fully understood only by using other sources as well, including open ones; and they may be contradicted by other classified materials not yet available.

    • A pair of leaked powerpoints reveal the earliest-known evidence of the Republican gerrymandering plan that gave us Trump

      [...] but a pair of leaked Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) powerpoints show that GOP strategists were scheming and fundraising to ensure that their candidates would wield power regardless of popular support at least a year and a half earlier.

    • White House Aide Rob Porter Resigns Amid Domestic Violence Allegations

      White House staff secretary Rob Porter resigned Wednesday, one day after both of his ex-wives publicly accused him of domestic violence. Porter’s first wife, Colbie Holderness, said she was kicked by Porter during the couple’s honeymoon in 2003 and that verbal and physical abuse continued for years. A pair of photos Holderness provided to The Intercept shows her with a black eye; she says they were taken after Porter threw her onto a bed and punched her in the face during a trip to Florence, Italy, in 2005. Holderness also provided the photos to FBI agents as they conducted background interviews for Porter’s White House security clearance. Porter’s second wife, Jennifer Willoughby, also alleged an abusive relationship in FBI interviews. Even as he tendered his resignation Wednesday, Rob Porter denied the charges—in a statement read by White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Facebook is testing a downvote button, but only for comment moderation

      Tapping the downvote button hides the comment for the user who taps it, then asks them to say whether the comment was “offensive,” “misleading,” or “off topic.” Downvote view counts not being visible to users. “We are not testing a dislike button,” a Facebook spokesperson writes. “We are exploring a feature for people to give us feedback about comments on public page posts. This is running for a small set of people in the US only.”

    • India fines Google for abuse of Web search dominance

      The Competition Commission of India, the country’s anti-trust watchdog, has fined Google 135.86 crore rupees (about US$21.1 million) for “abusing its dominant position in online general Web search and Web search advertising services in India”.

    • CCI imposes Rs 135.86 crore penalty on Google for search bias

      The CCI also noted in the order that ranking of Universal Results prior to 2010 were pre-determined to trigger at the 1st, 4th or 10th position on the SERP instead of by their relevance. Such practice of Google was unfair to the users and was found to be in contravention of the provisions of Section 4(2)(a)(i) of the Act.

    • No, the EU did not abolish geoblocking today

      Tragically, error messages like This content is not available in your country will continue to haunt us after the law the European Parliament confirmed today comes into effect. They will continue to deny European works access to a pan-European audience, and cost our economy millions in lost sales.

    • China’s #MeToo movement changes its slogan to ‘Rice Bunny’ to avoid strict censorship

      China’s #MeToo movement recently changed its name to evade internet censorship.

      A Weibo discussion page for the movement — which has received over 2.2 million views — features the hashtag #ricebunny and icons of a rabbit and bowl of rice, which represent women’s fight against sexual misconduct in China.

      The new name is derived from the Chinese words for rice and rabbit, 米兔, which is pronounced “mi tu.”

      According to The Conversation, the name change came around January 19 when hundreds of social media posts using #MeTooInChina (#MeToo在中国) were reportedly deleted by internet censors. Forums addressing the topic were reportedly removed as well.

    • Art is all about nuance. Let’s not lose it in the alarmist censorship debate

      In the last few years censorship, or indeed the cry thereof, has become something of a meme. Some well-meaning group of people, usually from a demographic that is still struggling to achieve full equality, will raise objections to the meaning of a piece of art or literature, sometimes – but notably not always – requesting its removal. And then the rightwing press will go ballistic. Crotchety letters will be written to newspapers, rent-a-gobs will start sharpening their poison pens, those who raised objections will be abused and ridiculed – and then, after many column inches, everyone will forget about it until the next censorship row comes along.

    • Why (Allegedly) Defamatory Content On WordPress.com Doesn’t Come Down Without A Court Order

      WordPress.com is one of the most popular publishing platforms online. We host sites for bloggers, photographers, small businesses, political dissidents, and large companies. With more than 70 million websites hosted on our service, we unsurprisingly receive complaints about all types of content. Our terms of service define the categories of content that we don’t allow on wordpress.com.

      We try to be as objective as possible in defining the categories of content that we do not allow, as well as in our determinations about what types of content fall into, or do not fall into, each category. For most types of disputed content, we have the competency to make a judgment call about whether it violates our terms of service.

    • Sina Weibo denounced for manipulation of trending topics and inadequate censorship

      It’s been a shaky few months for Sina Weibo, China’s largest microblogging service. Last month, after receiving tips from Weibo users, the platform shut down 246 accounts for posting pornographic content involving children. A mere few days later, Weibo also deleted more than 3,000 posts of children’s cartoons that were deemed “disturbing and violent” to concerned parents.

    • Censorship and the Boi Mela

      “From a love for our language, for the Liberation War, and for the nation has arisen a shared sense of democracy and freedom of speech,” writes Ahmedur Rashid Chowdhury Tutul about the impact of the Boi Mela via email. But, he writes on, increased censorship and violence towards writers and publishers have jeopardised free thinking in the country.

      Before, and during, this year’s Amar Ekushey Boi Mela have come repeated warnings from the police that action would be taken against writers and publishers with books that could hurt religious sentiments. Whilst no incidents have happened so far this year, the much-awaited fair—a mainstay of the publishing industry—has a blood-spattered history for writers, bloggers and publishers.

    • We talked to Lebanese about their thoughts on film censorship

      When it comes to freedom of expression, Lebanon has always been regarded as one of the most advanced countries in the Arab world.

      However, with recent bans on films, plays, and television programs, in addition to crackdowns on journalists and activists, this well-known and easily accepted image is now being questioned by many.

      In recent months, the country censored several local independent film productions and banned Hollywood blockbusters including Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman.

    • Beirut’s movie boycott hurts Lebanon more than Israel

      The Lebanese General Security Directorate recently reviewed director Steven Spielberg’s film “The Post” because of his ties with Israel, and its censorship committee decided to ban the movie because Spielberg is on a blacklist for “Schindler’s List.” A few days later, the decision was reversed and the movie was allowed in cinemas.

      Movie censorship in Lebanon is haphazard, with decisions based loosely on a 1947 law and often made under pressure from religious and political groups. Censorship is based on four subjective considerations, which include respect for public morals, state authorities’ reputations, sectarian and religious sensitivities and Lebanon’s interests.

      [...]

      A long list of movies have been banned or censored in Lebanon during the past two years. “Spotlight,” an Oscar-winning film about pedophilia in the Catholic church, was not shown because distributors were afraid of religion-related repercussions. “I Say Dust,” a film from Lebanese-American Darine Hotait, was banned for a same-sex kissing scene, horror movie “Annabelle 2″ for religious reasons and “Wonder Woman” and “Justice League” because actress Gal Gadot, a former Israeli soldier, starred in both.

      March Lebanon, a nongovernmental organization concerned with freedom of expression and culture, has created a Virtual Museum of Censorship, an online database tracking banned and censored material since Lebanon declared independence from France in 1943. March Vice President Gino Raidy told Al-Monitor he was “very excited about the ban lift on ‘The Post.’”

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Google’s hardware team absorbs Nest in order to compete with Amazon

      Nest Labs, best known for selling high-end thermostats and smoke detectors, is joining Google’s hardware division. After the merger, Nest is no longer a standalone entity and instead will be part of Google. Marwan Fawaz, the current CEO of Nest, will report to Google hardware SVP Rick Osterloh. Back in 2014, Google bought Nest for $3.2 billion. At that time, it was decided that Nest would be a separate company.

    • Driving Licences Will Soon Be Linked With Aadhaar, Supreme Court Told

      After linking welfare programmes and financial services to Aadhaar, the Centre is in the process of adding driving licences to the mix, the Supreme Court was told today. The aim, a court-appointed committee said, was to weed out fake licenses and a software is being prepared that will connect licenses issued in all states on real-time.

    • Govt linking driving licences with Aadhaar, Centre tells Supreme Court
    • Boston Police Used Social Media Surveillance for Years Without Informing City Council

      In December 2016, the Boston City Council held a hearing to discuss the Boston Police Department’s plan to spend $1.4 million on a social media surveillance system. Police Superintendent Paul Fitzgerald and Boston Regional Intelligence Center (BRIC) director David Carabin spoke of their commitment to transparency but did not provide any specific details about the software. After news of the plans became public, Boston Police Commissioner William Evans explained, “We’re not going after ordinary people. It’s a necessary tool of law enforcement and helps in keeping our neighborhoods safe from violence, as well as terrorism, human trafficking, and young kids who might be the victim of a pedophile.”

    • The CLOUD Act: A Dangerous Expansion of Police Snooping on Cross-Border Data

      This week, Senators Hatch, Graham, Coons, and Whitehouse introduced a bill that diminishes the data privacy of people around the world.

      The Clarifying Overseas Use of Data (CLOUD) Act expands American and foreign law enforcement’s ability to target and access people’s data across international borders in two ways. First, the bill creates an explicit provision for U.S. law enforcement (from a local police department to federal agents in Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to access “the contents of a wire or electronic communication and any record or other information” about a person regardless of where they live or where that information is located on the globe. In other words, U.S. police could compel a service provider—like Google, Facebook, or Snapchat—to hand over a user’s content and metadata, even if it is stored in a foreign country, without following that foreign country’s privacy laws.

    • HP’s new EliteBooks have a built-in webcam cover for privacy

      HP is announcing a bunch of new laptops and monitors today, but the single most interesting thing about them may be a small piece of metal: a webcam cover, so you can ensure you aren’t being watched while the camera’s not in use.

    • The Nunes Memo Has Effectively Destroyed Intelligence Oversight

      The Nunes Memo, capitalized to give it far more gravitas that it actually possesses, was released late last week to mixed reviews. Nunes had built it up to be a mind-blowing damnation of a politically corrupt Federal Bureau of Investigation, more interested in destroying Trump than performing its appointed duties. The memo showed the FBI had relied on questionable evidence from the Steele dossier while securing FISA warrants to surveill former Trump adviser Carter Page. This memo was composed by the House intelligence oversight head — one who had rarely expressed concern about domestic surveillance prior to investigations of Trump officials.

    • Big data needs a hardware revolution

      Advances in computing tend to focus on software: the flashy apps and programs that can track the health of people and ecosystems, analyse big data and beat human champions at Go. Meanwhile, efforts to introduce sweeping changes to the hardware that underlies all that innovation have gone relatively unnoticed.

    • The House That Spied on Me

      In December, I converted my one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco into a “smart home.” I connected as many of my appliances and belongings as I could to the internet: an Amazon Echo, my lights, my coffee maker, my baby monitor, my kid’s toys, my vacuum, my TV, my toothbrush, a photo frame, a sex toy, and even my bed.

      “Our bed?” asked my husband, aghast. “What can it tell us?”

      “Our breathing rate, heart rate, how often we toss and turn, and then it will give us a sleep report each morning,” I explained.

    • Review Exonerates Former NSA Inspector General George Ellard of Charge He Retaliated Against Whistleblower

      Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense Stephanie Barna has determined that former National Security Agency Inspector General George Ellard did not retaliate against an agency whistleblower.

      Citing Ellard’s “distinguished career in public service”, the decision, made in April, 2017, recently was made available after restrictions on its use were removed. Among other things, Barna noted Ellard’s past work as counsel to the congressional inquiry into the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and as chief of staff to the presidential commission that examined counterintelligence programs in light of the espionage conducted by former FBI agent Robert Hanssen.

    • Jim Carrey urges people to delete their Facebook accounts

      Delete your account.

      That’s what Jim Carrey says Facebook users should do, as the actor looks to pull the mask off fake news.

      The star of “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” and “The Mask” said on Twitter on Tuesday that he’s dumping his Facebook stock and deleting his page because the social media giant profited from Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election via spreading false news with Russian origins, and says the company is still not doing enough to stop it.

      The 56-year-old Carrey encouraged other investors and users to do the same. He ended his tweet with the hashtag “unfriendfacebook.”

    • Chinese police use face recognition glasses to catch criminals
    • Small Sydney firm Azimuth a big player in govt spying: claim

      A small Australian company based in Sydney is playing a crucial role in helping spies and law enforcement to break into smartphones and also supplying them zero-day exploits, a report claims.

    • CLOUD Act Would Erode Trust in Privacy of Cloud Storage

      Unlike previous iterations of related legislation, the CLOUD Act omits the requirement of a warrant, issued on the basis of a finding of probable cause, for the disclosure of communications content to governmental entities in the U.S. CDT believes any reform to ECPA should include a warrant for content requirement, such as the one included in the the Email Privacy Act, which unanimously passed the House twice.

    • Analog Equivalent Privacy Rights (16/21): Our children’s privacy and Data Retention

      In the analog world of our parents, it was absolutely unthinkable that the government would demand to know every footstep you took, every phonecall you made, and every message you wrote, just as a routine matter. For our digital children, government officials keep insisting on this as though it were perfectly reasonable, because terrorism, and also, our digital children may be listening to music together or watching TV together, which is illegal in the way they like to do it, because of mail-order legislation from Hollywood. To make things even worse, the surveillance is retroactive — it is logged, recorded, and kept until somebody wants all of it.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • End Of An Era: Saying Goodbye To John Perry Barlow

      Either way, this is an end of an era. We’re in an age now where the general narrative making the rounds is, once again, touching on the moral panic of how terrible everything in technology is. Barlow spent decades teaching us about the possibilities of a better world on the internet, and nudging us, sometimes gently, sometimes forcefully, in that direction. And, now, just at a point where that vision is most at risk, he’s left us to continue that fight on our own. The internet world has many challenges ahead of it — and we should all strive to be guided both by Barlow’s principles and his vision of constantly pushing to mold the technology world into that world we want it to be — not ignoring the negatives, but looking for ways to get beyond them and expand the opportunities for the good to come out. It will be harder without him being there to help guide us.

    • Electronic Frontier Foundation Founder John Perry Barlow Dead at 70

      Internet pioneer John Perry Barlow has died at the age of 70. Barlow was co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which advocates for internet users’ privacy and which has battled the Trump administration’s efforts to end landmark “net neutrality” rules designed to keep the internet free and open. Barlow also wrote lyrics for many songs by the legendary rock group The Grateful Dead.

    • John Perry Barlow: will dream of open internet die with its founding father?

      The declaration laid out an optimistic vision for an egalitarian internet that would allow anyone to express their beliefs “without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity” and without government regulation.

      “His optimism was infectious and he played such an important role in allowing people to be bold about what they might build,” said Siva Vaidhyanathan, professor of media studies at the University of Virginia.

    • John Perry Barlow, ‘visionary’ internet pioneer, dies aged 70

      In addition to his work with the EFF, Barlow co-founded the Freedom of the Press Foundation in 2012, which works to support public interest journalism. He sat on the board of directors, along with whistleblower Edward Snowden and investigative reporter Glenn Greenwald.

    • Mike Godwin Remembers John Perry Barlow

      I can and will testify that I had a life before I met John Perry Barlow. At the beginning of 1990 I was finishing up law school in Texas (only one more semester and then the bar exam!) and was beginning to think about my professional future (how about being a prosecutor in Houston?) and my personal future (should my long-term girlfriend and I get married?).

      That was the glide path I was on before Grateful Dead lyricist John Perry Barlow, together with software entrepreneur Mitch Kapor and Sun Microsystems pioneering programmer John Gilmore, decided to start what would shortly be known as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). EFF disrupted all my inertial, half-formed plans and changed my life forever. (I didn’t, for example, become a prosecutor.) And John Perry Barlow was the red-hot beating heart of EFF.

      [...]

      Barlow frequently yielded to the temptation to utter oracular pronouncements, to jump to conclusions before he’d done the reading. In what started out as a minor contretemps with “Acid Phreak” and “Phiber Optik,” participants who championed the exploratory hacking of computer systems…

    • Co-founder of EFF, John Perry Barlow, dead at 70

      In the late 1980s, Barlow joined an early online community called The WELL. There, his rural libertarian and psychedelic roots began to gel with a nascent, technology-fueled reality. That’s where he met Mitch Kapor, who was fresh off his success of creating Lotus 1-2-3, an influential early spreadsheet application.

    • Mourning John Perry Barlow, the Bard of the Internet

      When I first met John Perry Barlow, we became instant soulmates. While that sentence is true for me, it also applies to probably 10,000 other people. That was Barlow—whether you were a world-famous avatar of LSD, a stuffy CEO, or the Vice President of the United States, he would win you over with his affable demeanor, arresting observations, and a mordant take on the human condition.

      He had a unique and compelling credential—“junior lyricist of the Grateful Dead” was the way he put it—and he wielded it like an all-access laminate to the concert hall of life. His rock and roll bona fides was only one strand of a web of myths he pulled out of his suede jacket like a well-rolled joint: cowboy, poet, romantic, family man, philosopher, and ultimately, the bard of the digital revolution. He was an influential voice and an intimate participant in the early days of Wired, a co-founder and spiritual inspiration for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and the guy who promoted cyberspace as deftly as Steve Jobs hyped Apple. By the time he was done, he was more famous for proselytizing the internet than he was for co-writing “Cassidy” and other Dead classics.

      Done he is—Barlow died in his sleep last night in San Francisco. He was 70 years old.

    • THE FORGOTTEN VICTORY: VOTES FOR WORKING-CLASS MEN

      There has been much justified celebration this week of that historic enfranchisement of around 8.4million mainly middle-class women. Far less attention has been paid to the other victory for democracy in the 1918 Act – the granting of the vote to virtually all males aged over 21, which enfranchised some 5.6million working-class men for the first time.

      That side of the Act does not fit the fashionable script, which depicts the democratic victory of February 1918 as a triumph for modern feminism. To listen to much of the media discussion this week you might imagine the struggle over the franchise was simply part of an ongoing gender war between men and women. The Suffragette movement led by Emmeline Pankhurst has been talked about as if it were a prototype of the #MeToo campaign, with long skirts and hats rather than hashtags, which somehow won the vote for middle-class women by staging publicity stunts.

    • John Perry Barlow, Memorial Fund Grants and Fellowship in Memory of Bassel Khartabil, cpu_features and More

      Creative Commons announced “two new opportunities to continue the legacy and impact of Syrian Palestinian Open internet activist Bassel Khartabil”. The Bassel Khartabil Memorial Fund grants, “will be awarded to individuals or groups whose work embodies the legacy and impact of Bassel Khartabil, and whose projects are deeply intertwined with Creative Commons’ core mission and values.” Applications are being accepted until March 24th. The Bassel Khartabil Free Culture Fellowship “supports outstanding individuals developing open culture in their communities under adverse circumstances.”

    • Creative Commons launches Memorial Fund Grants and Fellowship in Memory of Bassel Khartabil

      The Bassel Khartabil Memorial Fund, launched in August 2017 at the behest of his family, will provide grants between $1,000 and $10,000 to organizations, groups, and individual grantees working to advance collaboration, community building, and leadership development in the open communities of the Arab world. The Memorial Fund is accepting grant applications until March 24th. These grants will be awarded to individuals or groups whose work embodies the legacy and impact of Bassel Khartabil, and whose projects are deeply intertwined with Creative Commons’ core mission and values. Applicants from the Creative Commons Global Network and broader Open movement are strongly encouraged. Creative Commons gratefully acknowledges generous support for the Bassel Khartabil Memorial Fund from Private Internet Access, the family of Bassel Khartabil, and individual donors. Learn more at the following link.

    • Lavette’s Choice

      Thirty seconds. That’s how long it took for a Cook County judge to eyeball the silenced woman standing before him and set the price of her freedom. Thirty seconds.

      It was early March and 45-year-old Lavette Mayes had just spent three days in a Chicago lock-up. She was ill-prepared for cell block weather, and she froze those first couple of days in a loose hospital gown pulled tight over her own thin nightgown, a pair of pants, and old house shoes. After begging the guards, they allowed her sister to bring a coat, buttons cut-off, and white K-Swiss gym shoes. Even so, Mayes, who grew up on the South Side, says, “I was in no kind of condition to stand in front of a judge, not even with my face washed.”

      The biggest life change that Mayes anticipated in 2015 was an end to her 23-year-marriage. She was going through a bitter divorce. But nothing could have prepared the mother of two to spend the next 14 months without seeing or touching her 5-year-old son, and 14-year-old daughter again — all because she could not afford pretrial bond. All of them bore the heavy weight of a judge’s decision to set bail at $250,000, which meant pay 10 percent down to go home with electronic monitoring.

      “My children were just as incarcerated as I was with me being gone,” she says.

    • Mother of Two Goes to Immigration Interview and Ends Up in ICE Detention

      A federal judge in Boston has stayed the deportation of a Rhode Island woman pending his review of a petition challenging her detention and the government’s efforts to remove her. The judge, Mark L. Wolf, is one of a growing number of judges across the country who are looking closely at the government’s increasingly aggressive detention and deportation practices.

    • Single-Pixel Tracker Leads Paranoid Turkish Authorities To Wrongly Accuse Over 10,000 People Of Treason

      We’ve written many articles about the thin-skinned Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and his massive crackdown on opponents, real or imagined, following the failed coup attempt in 2016.

    • White Nationalist Movement: Myth Vs. Fact

      MYTH: The alt-right movement is secretly a neo-Nazi movement.

      FACT: The alt-right movement is openly a neo-Nazi movement.

      MYTH: White nationalist beliefs are mainstream now.

      FACT: Noticing white nationalist beliefs is mainstream now.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Sorry, FCC: Charter will lower investment after net neutrality repeal

      But as we noted earlier this week, Charter raised its capital investment in 2017 while the net neutrality rules were in place. And with the repeal soon to take effect, Charter says it is preparing for a “meaningful decline” in spending on building and upgrading broadband networks.

    • There are Ajit Pai “Verizon puppet” jokes that the FCC doesn’t want you to read

      The FCC letter to Gizmodo says that records can be kept secret if they were “prepared in order to assist an agency decision maker in arriving at his decision” and “would expose an agency’s decision-making process in such a way as to discourage candid discussion within the agency and thereby undermine the agency’s ability to perform its functions.”

    • On The Internet, Everyone Is A Creator

      One theme that we’ve covered on Techdirt since its earliest days is the power of the internet as an open platform for just about anyone to create and communicate. Simultaneously, one of our greatest fears has been how certain forces — often those disrupted by the internet — have pushed over and over again to restrict and contain the internet, and turn it into something more like a broadcast platform controlled by gatekeepers, where only the chosen few can use it to create and share. This is one of the reasons we’ve been so adamant over the years that in so many policy fights, “Silicon Valley v. Content” is a false narrative. It’s almost never true — because the two go hand in hand. The internet has made it so that everyone can be a creator. Internet platforms have made it so that anyone can create almost any kind of content they want, they can promote that content, they can distribute it, they can build a fan base, and they can even make money. That’s in huge contrast to the old legacy way of needing a giant gatekeeper — a record label, a movie studio, or a book publisher — to let you into the exclusive club.

      [...]

      The internet has enabled so many more creators and artists than it has hurt. And to help make that point, today we’re launching a new site, EveryoneCreates.org which features stories and quotes from a variety of different creators — including bestselling authors, famous musicians, filmmakers, photographers and poets — all discussing how important an open internet has been to building their careers and creating their art.

    • FCC Report Falsely Claims Killing Net Neutrality Already Helping Broadband Competition

      For years the FCC has been caught in a vicious cycle. Under the Communications Act, the FCC is required to issue annual reports on the state of U.S. broadband and competition, taking action if services aren’t being deployed in a “reasonable and timely” basis. When under the grip of regulatory capture and revolving door regulators, these reports tends to be artificially rosy, downplaying or ignoring the lack of competition that should be obvious to anybody familiar with Comcast. These folks’ denial of the sector’s competition shortcomings often teeters toward the comical and is usually hard to miss.

    • New Jersey The Latest State To Protect Net Neutrality By Executive Order

      The Trump FCC is currently in the process of trying to eliminate all meaningful oversight of some of the least competitive companies in America. Not only are broadband providers and the Trump administration trying to gut FTC and FCC oversight of companies like Comcast, they’re also trying to ban states from protecting net neutrality or broadband consumer privacy at ISP lobbyist behest. This is all based on the belief that letting Comcast run amok somehow magically forges telecom Utopia. It’s the kind of thinking that created Comcast and the market’s problems in the first place.

      And while the Trump FCC is trying to ban states from protecting consumers in the wake of federal apathy (you know, states rights and all that), the individual states don’t appear to be listening. Numerous states are pushing new legislation that effectively codifies the FCC’s 2015 net neutrality rules on the state level, efforts that will be contested in the courts over the next few years. ISPs have been quick to complain about the threat of multiple, discordant and shitty state laws, ignoring the fact that they created this problem by lobbying to kill reasonable (and popular) federal protections.

    • FCC Refuses To Release FOIA Documents Pertaining To Its Stupid Verizon ‘Collusion’ Joke

      You might recall that right before the FCC voted to kill net neutrality at Verizon’s behest, the agency thought it would be a hoot to joke about the agency’s “collusion” with Verizon at a telecom industry gala. The lame joke was a tone-deaf attempt to mock very legitimate concerns that Pai, a former Verizon regulatory lawyer, is far too close to the industry he’s supposed to be regulating. The FCC even went so far as to include a little video featuring Verizon executives, who chortled about their plans to install Pai as a “puppet” leader at the agency. Hilarious.

  • DRM
    • EFF vs IoT DRM, OMG!

      What with the $400 juicers and the NSFW smart fridges, the Internet of Things has arrived at that point in the hype cycle midway between “bottom line” and “punchline.” Hype and jokes aside, the reality is that fully featured computers capable of running any program are getting cheaper and more powerful and smaller with no end in sight, and the gadgets in our lives are transforming from dumb hunks of electronics to computers in fancy cases that are variously labeled “car” or “pacemaker” or “Alexa.”

      We don’t know which designs and products will be successful in the market, but we’re dead certain that banning people from talking about flaws in existing designs and trying to fix those flaws will make all the Internet of Things’ problems worse.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Kevin Soter on Causation in Reverse Payment Antitrust Claims

      Soter sides with the latter approach, arguing that the causation inquiry for private plaintiffs is no different from the inquiry over anticompetitive effects at issue in Actavis, for which litigation of patent validity is unnecessary. And he notes that a burden-shifting approach could address lingering concerns by allowing defendants to rebut the inference of causation.

    • Qualcomm seeking leverage over Apple, hoping to win German patent injunction by August or September

      At the end of the previous post (relating to the vacatur of a discovery sanctions order agaqinst Apple) I mentioned today’s Qualcomm v. Apple patent infringement hearing by the Munich I Regional Court, relating to European Patent EP2724461 on a low-voltage power-efficient envelope tracker. I attended the hearing (the last one–or one of the last few–prior to leaving Germany).

      A procedural takeaway is that Qualcomm is now presumably going to file a discovery request in a United States District Court against Qorvo, a chipset maker under 28 U.S.C. § 1782, hoping to obtain information that will help substantiate its infringement allegations in the case heard today.

    • Trademarks
    • Copyrights
      • Man Handed Conditional Prison Sentence for Spreading Popcorn Time Information

        A man from Denmark has been handed a six-month conditional prison sentence for spreading information about Popcorn Time. In what is being described as a first for Europe, the man was convicted after telling people how to download, install and use the movie streaming service. He was also ordered to forfeit $83,300 in ad revenue and complete 120 hours community service.

      • How a kid cartoonist avoided Scholastic’s digital sharecropping trap

        However, during the application process, I learned something disturbing about the Scholastic Awards. In their “Terms & Conditions,” (the pages of legal language that nobody reads), they state that “The student irrevocably grants an assignment transferring to the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, Inc.(“Alliance”) all right, title, and interest (including all copyrights) in and to the submitted work (“Work”).”

        That means that the copyright for whatever the applicant submitted is fully transferred to Scholastic. In other words, if a student who applied for an award tries to print or publish their own work without saying “Property of Scholastic Inc.,” Scholastic can sue. In addition, Scholastic can publish the applicant’s work and sell it without giving the applicant, the original creator, any of the profits.

      • Rightscorp Has a Massive Database of ‘Repeat Infringers’ to Pursue

        Anti-piracy outfit Rightscorp has a database of nearly a billion copyright infringements, ready to use, including many repeat infringers. Responding to a crucial court decision last week, the company says that it is ready to help copyright holders identify persistent pirates and hold Internet providers accountable if needed.

      • Blizzard Still Trying To Take Down WoW Vanilla Fan Servers While Refusing To Offer A Competing Product

        You will hopefully recall a post we did several years ago dealing with Blizzard’s decision to shut down a fan-run “vanilla” World of Warcraft server that stripped the game’s expansions out and let players play the game as it was originally released in 2004. As is so often the case in these kinds of disputes, we can at once stipulate that Blizzard was within its right to do this while still calling out whether it was the best decision it could make on the matter. The simple fact is that there were other avenues down which the company could travel other than threatening the fan-server into oblivion, such as working out a cheap licensing arrangement to make it official. The whole situation became all the more odd when you consider that Blizzard itself does not offer a competing experience with the fan-server, essentially ignoring what is clearly a desire within the fanbase for that kind of experience that Blizzard could monetize if it wanted. Instead, the fan-server shut itself down under the threat of a trademark lawsuit and Blizzard went on its merry way ignoring these customer desires.

      • Thor:Ragnarok Director Says He “Illegally Torrented” Clips for the Showreel

        Last weekend, after what appeared to be a pre-order blunder, Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok was leaked online in advance of its official release date. Interestingly, it now transpires that director Taiki Waititi is no stranger to piracy himself, after admitting that his showreel for the movie contained source material he’d “illegally torrented” on the Internet.

      • Director Of Thor: Ragnarok Pirated Clips For His Sizzle Reel

        With the constant drumbeat of the evils of copyright infringement and internet piracy being issued from those leading the movie industry, you might have been under the impression everyone within the industry held the same beliefs. Between the cries of lost profits, the constant calls for the censorship of websites, and even the requests to roll back safe harbor protections that have helped foster what must be considered a far larger audience for the industry, perhaps you pictured the rank and file of the movie business as white-clad monk-like figures that served as paragons of copyright virtue.

        Yet that’s often not the case. While many artists, actors, and directors do indeed toe the industry line on matters of piracy, you will occasionally get glimpses of what has to be considered normalcy in how people engage with copyright issues among members of the industry. We should keep in mind our argument that essentially everyone will infringe on intellectual property at some point, often times without knowing or intending it, because engaging in said behavior just seems to make sense. During a radio interview Taiki Waititi did to promote Thor: Ragnarok, which he directed, he admitted to doing it himself.

      • Jailed Streaming Site Operator Hit With Fresh $3m Damages Lawsuit

        Following a landmark trial last May, a founder of streaming site Swefilmer was jailed for an unprecedented three years, longer than any defendant even in the Pirate Bay case. With an appeal hearing just weeks away, he’s just been hit with a fresh $3m damages claim. “This is about organized crime and grossly criminal individuals who earned huge sums on our and others’ content,” the plaintiffs explain.

      • RIAA: Cox Ruling Shows that Grande Can Be Liable for Piracy Too

        Internet Provider Grande Communications can be held liable for contributing copyright infringement, the RIAA argued at a Texas federal court this week. Responding to the ISP’s motion to dismiss, the music industry group submits last week’s Fourth Circuit ruling in the Cox case as additional evidence that the ISP failed to meet its obligations.

      • Science’s pirate [sic] queen [iophk: "uses bullshit phrases like "intellectual property" and fails to note that Elsevier profits off of work full paid for by others"]

When INPI Met INPI and IAM Met the EPO

Thursday 8th of February 2018 06:26:34 PM

The three Frenchmen (context)

Summary: The relationship between the EPO and the media (financial relationship) gives room for thought ahead of the appointment of an ex-banker, an old friend of Battistelli, as EPO President

THE EPO has not made many announcements this year. Battistelli too has kept a relatively low profile, maybe because he’s leaving soon. A lot of the ‘action’ is now at the USPTO (which we mostly cover during weekends).

“Battistelli too has kept a relatively low profile, maybe because he’s leaving soon.”A few days ago Battistelli added another photo op (warning: epo.org link) to his portfolio. The politician from INPI (who brought his cronies from INPI to the EPO) shakes hands with another INPI, the one in Argentina. To quote:

At the meeting, the EPO and INPI presidents also discussed progress on other joint projects laid out in a memorandum of understanding on bilateral co-operation signed by the two offices in May 2017. This agreement covers areas such as access to information, sharing data and tools, improved patent procedures, and training.

The Latin American Herald Tribune then published this puff piece about it, not adding anything particularly interesting. Argentina is barely relevant to the EPO (several orders of magnitude less than Germany, for instance).

“No doubt the EPO and IAM will continue their sick relationship; they already groom Campinos on a regular basis, giving him all sorts of awards (e.g. “personality of the year”) before he even enters the EPO.”EPO puff pieces have become the norm. Thankfully we already have hard evidence of EPO payments to media firms. That helps explain it. Sometimes the EPO pays the media directly, but sometimes the money gets funneled indirectly, e.g. via PR agencies. That’s what seems to have happened with IAM, which seems like it’s already preparing the next “EPO is awesome” report. A few days ago IAM became ‘incestuous’ with Battistelli again [1, 2]. It’s no laughing matter because it makes IAM complicit in a lot of human suffering. IAM has also just published ads for Carpmaels & Ransford LLP and for Awapatent AB on Wednesday (the ads are euphemistically labeled “international reports”). The latter is SPC promotion (indirectly related to UPC). It then promoted the AI hype. Can we please stop promoting the AI hype? It’s not new (a century old) and patents should be pursued by humans, not some lousy algorithms; same for academic papers; don’t corrupt these like the stock market (played primarily by bots now).

No doubt the EPO and IAM will continue their sick relationship; they already groom Campinos on a regular basis, giving him all sorts of awards (e.g. “personality of the year”) before he even enters the EPO. This banker will just drive the 'investment bank' into the ground for short-term cash, just like Battistelli.

The UPC Lobby Wants to Crush the Boards of Appeal (BoA) While EPO Changes Rules of Procedure of the BoA

Thursday 8th of February 2018 05:45:34 PM

Related: Crazed Battistelli is Trying Plan B to Demolish the Boards of Appeal (Quality Control), Praesidium/Association of Members Strikes Back

Summary: The Unified Patent Court (UPC) push has slowed down if not ground to a halt, but attacks on the Boards of Appeal (BoA), which UPC lobbyists are hoping to replace, appear to carry on under the guise of “consultation” (a concept that Battistelli never seems to have grasped)

THE UPC lobby has been relatively quiet, knowing that Germany put the whole thing on the ice if not in the bin. It may take several years for Team UPC to even know the outcome.

A US-based front group, Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property (CPIP) (not to be mistaken for Center for Intellectual Property Understanding (CIPU)), was mentioned here a couple of years back (amongst other times). It’s USPTO-centric and it’s now pushing for the UPC, so it’s simpler to know it’s not a good thing for Europe. It said: “This new paper from our Patent Valuation Symposium by Roya Ghafele et al. is already having an impact in Europe: Using Patent Valuation Methods to Assess Damages in Patent Infringement Cases Under the Unified Patent Court…”

We attempted to find out who sponsored the work, knowing that the EPO already corrupts academia for so-called ‘studies’ which are really UPC advocacy. The EPO corrupted academia both in the US and in the UK for this. The author, Ghafele, is based in Oxford and works for a private consultancy. From the abstract:

We illustrate how publicly sanctioned IP valuation guidelines prevailing in Europe can be applied to assess damages as foreseen under the provisions of the UPC Agreement. With the help of a hypothetical example, we then evaluate if and to what extent the various ways proposed by European institutions to value IP fit with the provisions of the UPCA. We find that in situations where courts have all the necessary information required to determine damages, the IP valuation methods are a very useful tool in determining damages. It can however be expensive to obtain the necessary data to adequately determine damages.

The author has history with the EPO. From his LinkedIn account:

A changing climate: the IP landscape of clean energy technologies

Oxford Journal of Intellectual Property Law and Practice

2012

This article is a review of a report titled ‘Patents and Clean Energy Technologies: Bridging the Gap between Evidence and Policy’, published in 2010 by the European Patent Office and the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development.

Maybe the apple does not fall far from the tree after all…

Either way, UPC lobbying can be seen elsewhere. “Both the UPC’s Court of Appeal and Registry will be in Luxembourg,” Bristows’ Brian Cordery wrote a couple of days ago. No, there’s no “will” (at best “would”) because there’s no UPC, but Team UPC does not care about facts and truths. A “unitary” patent system would mean more lawsuits, hence more money for such litigators. They just keep pushing fake predictions to mislead clients and politicians, hoping that they would ratify things hastily, in a great rush, even recklessly.

“They just try to give the public or the “users” the mere impression that they get to decide.”What about the EPO itself? Well, yesterday (for the second time in a week) it said: “Our online consultation on the proposed revised Rules of Procedure of the Boards of Appeal will close on 30 April. To take part go to http://bit.ly/2nDHz6V” (that’s the direct link, but be aware that it’s an epo.org link).

“What makes Battistelli so dangerous is that he very routinely breaks the law and always gets away with it.”They just try to give the public or the “users” the mere impression that they get to decide. On Boards of Appeal, however — like anything else at the EPO — management doesn’t care what anyone but Battistelli thinks. If Battistelli ever saw the UPC (he would never see it, not from within the EPO anyway), there would be no Boards of Appeal left at all. He tries to make them completely obsolete while maintaining not an impression of independence but an perception that he gives a damn about the EPC. What makes Battistelli so dangerous is that he very routinely breaks the law and always gets away with it.

Mark Rutte Under Pressure to Stop Battistelli’s EPO From Violating Laws With Impunity

Thursday 8th of February 2018 05:01:26 PM

Summary: Pressure is growing in the EPO’s second-largest ‘base’ to actually enforce the law because Germany does not seem to be interested

THE staff union of the EPO, SUEPO, has finally translated a bunch of articles which we hoped it would translate. These were translated into several languages, but English is the language we focus on (Spanish is the second language). We have converted these translations into HTML and highlighted a few bits which we found more important (not much new information there). Here is the original from FNV:

FNV: ‘Rutte must intervene at the European Patent Office to prevent infringement of employees’ rights’

The Netherlands Trade Union Confederation (FNV) has called on Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Minister of Social Affairs and Employment Wouter Koolmees in a letter to intervene at the European Patent Office (EPO). The EPO is once again breaking Dutch law.

The Netherlands partly responsible

Marieke Manschot, Director of FNV Government: “As a host country for foreign businesses, the Netherlands is (partly) responsible for the rights of the employees on its territory and must therefore intervene to protect employees’ rights. In order to continue attracting and retaining foreign investors, good working conditions are necessary.’

Management conducting a reign of terror

The EPO is proposing to abolish the majority of permanent employment contracts, even if the nature of the work does not require this. The contracts for future employees will be replaced by temporary contracts with a maximum duration of five years, which is extendible. This is in breach of the Dutch Work and Security Act. Staff representatives, such as the works council or union representatives, will also no longer be involved in the hiring policy for new employees.

‘The abuses at the EPO are stacking up,’ says Tuur Elzinga, Vice Chair of the FNV. ‘We have already taken action along with the staff as the management were intimidating staff and critical individuals had been dismissed with immediate effect. Now the employees are also being denied the security of a permanent contract. The Dutch government must intervene to stop this reign of terror by the management.’

Infringement of European legislation

Like all other Member States of the European Union, the Netherlands has a responsibility towards employees working on its territory. This means, among other things, that employees in temporary employment are not treated worse than employees in permanent employment. Abuse by switching to only successive temporary employment contracts, for example, must therefore be prevented. In this context, the FNV also refers to infringements of European legislation (Directive 1999/70/EC).

On 30 January 2018, the proposal to abolish permanent employment contracts will be discussed by the EPO in Munich. In March, the proposal will be presented to the Administrative Council of the EPO. Elzinga: ‘Dutch representatives at the EPO will be present at both meetings. This will be an excellent opportunity to raise the issue of the breach of the employees’ rights.’

Another short article about that. Note Mark Rutte’s role in all this:

‘New abuses at European Patent Office’

The Netherlands Trade Union Confederation (FNV) is sounding the alarm on new abuses at the European Patent Office. According to the union, the European organisation, which is based in Rijswijk, is on the cusp of breaking Dutch law.

The patent office has plans to abolish the majority of permanent contracts.

The contracts for future employees will be replaced by temporary contracts with a maximum duration of five years, which is extendible. You can’t simply do that here, states the FNV in a letter to Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Minister of Social Affairs and Employment Wouter Koolmees. The union believes that the government needs to intervene.

“The abuses at the European Patent Office are stacking up,” says Tuur Elzinga, Vice Chair of the FNV. “We have already taken action along with the staff as the management were intimidating staff and critical individuals had been dismissed with immediate effect.”

A somewhat long article with an old photo:

‘Further abuses at European Patent Office’

[Photo]

Demonstration against patent office, Archive photograph 2016, Remco Out

RIJSWIJK – The Netherlands Trade Union Confederation (FNV) is sounding the alarm on new abuses at the European Patent Office. According to the union, the organisation, which is based in Rijswijk, is on the cusp of breaking Dutch law with plans to abolish the majority of permanent contracts. The Patent Office refutes the claim.

The FNV is complaining about a plan to replace contracts for future employees with temporary contracts with a maximum duration of five years, which is extendible. You can’t simply do that here, states the union in a letter to Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Minister of Social Affairs and Employment Wouter Koolmees. The union believes that the government needs to intervene.

‘The abuses at the European Patent Office are stacking up,’ says Tuur Elzinga, Vice Chair of the FNV. ‘We have already taken action along with the staff as the management were intimidating staff and critical individuals had been dismissed with immediate effect.’

‘Nothing decided yet’

The Patent Office denies that anything has been decided yet. The office is also absolutely not bound by national employment laws, as an international organisation, a spokesperson responded. According to him, European legislation is also not applicable, as the office is not an EU institution.

The European Patent Office was set up in 1977. Countries outside the EU are also members. 6800 people work there, 2700 of these in Rijswijk. These are mainly permanent employees. The organisation’s Administrative Council is meeting in March about ways to hire temporary employees more easily.

And more from the local media:

FNV: ‘European Patent Office infringing on employees’ rights’

The Financieel Dagblad newspaper has reported that the Netherlands Trade Union Confederation (FNV) has called on Prime Minister Rutte and Minister of Social Affairs and Employment Koolmees in a letter to intervene at the European Patent Office (EPO) in Rijswijk.

The FNV has sent the letter because the EPO, which is located in Rijswijk, is planning to abolish the majority of permanent contracts. For future employees, only contracts for a maximum of five years will be available. These contracts would be extendible. This is not currently legal in the Netherlands.

‘The abuses at the EPO are stacking up,’ Tuur Elzinga, Vice Chair of the FNV, tells Financieel Dagblad. ‘We have already taken action along with the staff as the management were intimidating staff and critical individuals had been dismissed with immediate effect. Now the employees are also being denied the security of a permanent contract.’

According to Marieke Manschot, Director of FNV Government, immunity is the major problem. ‘Thanks to the Vienna Convention, the EPO enjoys immunity as an international organisation. So it is very difficult to tackle things, as you cannot make any demands. The EPO must observe Dutch employment law, but it is not doing so.’

The plan to abolish permanent employment contracts will be discussed by the EPO on 30 January.

Considering the attacks SUEPO has come under over the years, we generally regard copies to be necessary. Quite a few times in the past SUEPO was forced to withdraw something it had published. SUEPO’s Web site has more translations as PDF files.

Links 8/2/2018: Belated Coverage of Plasma 5.12.0, Mozilla’s ‘IoT’

Thursday 8th of February 2018 11:50:13 AM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • 23 open source audio-visual production tools

    Open source is well established in cloud infrastructure, web hosting, embedded devices, and many other areas. Fewer people know that open source is a great option for producing professional-level audio-visual materials.

    As a product owner and sometimes marketing support person, I produce a lot of content for end users: documentation, web articles, video tutorials, event booth materials, white papers, interviews, and more. I have found plenty of great open source software that helps me do my job producing audio, video, print, and screen graphics. There are a lot of reasons that people choose open source over proprietary options, and I’ve compiled this list of open source audio and video tools for people who…

  • GStreamer 1.14 Working On AV1 & RTSP 2.0 Support, Promote MP3 Encoder/Decoder

    GStreamer core developer Tim-Philipp Müller has provided some insight about some current and upcoming happenings for the GStreamer multimedia framework project. He also addressed the recurring comment of “write it in Rust!” for better security/safety/reliability.

  • Happy birthday open source: A look back at the software that’s pushing tech forward

    From that original definition, the idea of “free” (as in “freedom,” not “price”) software was born. In part, because of the Open Source Definition, plenty of game-changing software has been developed. However, even before the Open Source Definition came into being, there was Richard Stallman, who launched the GNU Project, aimed at creating an operating system free from source code restraints. In 1985, Stallman published the GNU Manifesto in Dr. Dobb’s Journal of Software Tools. Eight years after that, Eric S. Raymond would go on to publish The Cathedral and the Bazaar, which was a detailed analysis of the hacker community as it pertains to free software principles. It was Raymond’s publication that led Netscape to release their Navigator browser as free software.

  • Nextcloud 13 Released With Better Interface, End-To-End Encryption

    The ownCloud-forked Nextcloud software for file hosting and communication is out with their latest major release.

    Nextcloud 13 is a big release with improvements to the user-interface, end-to-end encryption support is available as a tech preview, much better performance, new collaboration capabilities, Nextcloud Talk is available for built-in audio/video/text communication, and a wide range of other work has taken place over the last nine months.

  • For Open-Source Software, the Developers Are All of Us

    This problem goes back decades and has multiple root causes that culminate in the mess we have today. Hardware and software makers lack liability for flaws, which leads to sub-par rigor in verifying that systems are hardened against known vulnerabilities. A rise in advertising revenue from “big data” encourages firms to hoard information, looking for the right time to cash out their users’ information. Privacy violations go largely unpunished in courts, and firms regularly get away with enormous data breaches without paying any real price other than pride.

    But it doesn’t have to be this way. Open software development has been a resounding success for businesses, in the form of Linux, BSD and the hundreds of interconnected projects for their platforms. These open platforms now account for the lion’s share of the market for servers, and businesses are increasingly looking to open software for their client structure as well as for being a low-cost and high-security alternative to Windows and OS X.

  • Open-Source Single Sign-On (SSO)

    Single sign-on (SSO) solutions are a popular category within the identity and access management (IAM) sector. This is especially true when you look at the fact that SaaS adoption among small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) doubled in 2014, and has quadrupled since 2015 (Blissfully). According to the same report, SMBs use 50+ SaaS products on average, and IT admins have been adopting SSO solutions to help manage user access to these 50+ SaaS applications. However, single sign-on solutions can get extremely pricey, so it’s no wonder that IT organizations are searching for open-source single sign-on alternatives.

  • Increasing open-source inclusivity with paper circuits

    Open-source software has an inclusiveness problem that will take some innovative approaches to fix. But, Andrew “bunnie” Huang said in his fast-moving linux.conf.au 2018 talk, if we don’t fix it we may find we have bigger problems in the near future. His approach to improving the situation is to make technology more accessible — by enabling people to create electronic circuits on paper and write code for them.

    Huang started by asking why we should care about making technology more inclusive. Open-source software gets its power from inclusiveness; that power is so strong that we can (quoting Chris DiBona) claim that, without open-source software, the Internet as we know it would not exist. As an engineer, he thinks that’s great, but he has a concern: that means that the user base now include politicians.

  • Google gave the world powerful AI tools, and the world made porn with them

    In 2015, Google announced it would release its internal tool for developing artificial intelligence algorithms, TensorFlow, a move that would change the tone of how AI research and development would be conducted around the world. The means to build technology that could have an impact as profound as electricity, to borrow phrasing from Google’s CEO, would be open, accessible, and free to use. The barrier to entry was lowered from a Ph.D to a laptop.

  • Events
    • Where to Stay, Getting Around Prague for oSC18

      Prague is a beautiful city and you can bet that the city will be crowded during the openSUSE Conference. Hotels are already starting to fill up, so it’s best to take a look at the hotels we recommend now before all the hotels are booked out.

      There are six hotels that are recommended, but feel free to book at other hotels in the city. The section for recommended lodging on the openSUSE Conference 2018 webpage gives options for hotels as low as 40 EUR a night to above 120 EUR. Each listing on the section gives a little info about the hotel.

    • Freedom Embedded: Devices that Respect Users and Communities: LinuxConfAu 2018, Sydney, Australia

      FSF executive director John Sullivan delivered the talk “Freedom Embedded: Devices that Respect Users and Communities” in January 2018, at LinuxConfAu 2018. In this talk, John explains the FSF’s certification program called “Respects Your Freedom” (RYF) that awards a certification mark to hardware meeting a set of free software standards (fsf.org/ryf).

    • Linux Conference Australia heads to Christchurch in 2019

      Up to 800 delegates from around Australasia and the world will meet in Christchurch for Linux Conference Australia in 2019.

      The 20th anniversary of the annual conference will run from 21-25 January next year at the University of Canterbury, organisers have announced.

      Content will feature up to 100 speakers covering topics such as the Linux kernel, open source hardware and software, open government data and the various communities that have evolved around them.

    • Major tech conference confirmed for Christchurch

      One of the most respected technical conferences to be held in Australasia is coming to Christchurch.

      Between 500-800 delegates from around Australasia and the world will meet in the city in 2019 for linux.conf.au. It will be the 20th anniversary of the annual conference, which will run from 21-25 January 2019 at the University of Canterbury.

    • More XEPs for Smack

      I spent the last weekend from Thursday to Sunday in Brussels at the XSF-Summit (here is a very nice post about it by JCBrand) and the FOSDEM. It was really nice to meet all the faces belonging to the JIDs you otherwise only see in the MUCs or on GitHub in real life.

      [...]

      Ge0rG gave a talk about what’s currently wrong with the XMPP protocol. One suggested improvement was to rely more on Stable and Unique Stanza IDs to improve message identification in various use-cases, so I quickly implemented XEP-0359.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Easy Passwords is now PfP: Pain-free Passwords

        With the important 2.0 milestone I decided to give my Easy Passwords project a more meaningful name. So now it is called PfP: Pain-free Passwords and even has its own website. And that’s the only thing most people will notice, because the most important changes in this release are well-hidden: the crypto powering the extension got an important upgrade. First of all, the PBKDF2 algorithm for generating passwords was dumped in favor of scrypt which is more resistant to brute-force attacks. Also, all metadata written by PfP as well as backups are encrypted now, so that they won’t even leak information about the websites used. Both changes required much consideration and took a while to implement, but now I am way more confident about the crypto than I was back when Easy Passwords 1.0 was released. Finally, there is now an online version compiled from the same source code as the extensions and having mostly the same functionality (yes, usability isn’t really great yet, the user interface wasn’t meant for this use case).

      • Announcing the Reality Redrawn Challenge Winners!

        I’m delighted to announce the winners of Mozilla’s Reality Redrawn Challenge after my fellow judges and I received entries from around the globe. Since we issued the challenge just two months ago we have been astonished by the quality and imagination behind proposals that use mixed reality and other media to make the power of misinformation and its potential impacts visible and visceral.

        If you have tried to imagine the impact of fake news – even what it smells like – when it touches your world, I hope you will come to experience the Reality Redrawn exhibit at the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose. Our opening night runs from 6-9pm on May 17th and free tickets are available here. Keep an eye on Twitter @mozilla with the hashtag #RealityRedrawn for more details in the coming weeks. After opening night you can experience the exhibit in normal daily museum hours for a limited engagement of two weeks, 10am-5pm. We will be looking to bring the winning entries to life also for those who are not in the Bay Area.

      • MDN Changelog for January 2018
      • Mozilla reveals Project Things IoT open-source framework
      • Mozilla’s new Things Gateway is an open home for your smart devices
      • Mozilla launches Raspberry Pi-powered ‘Project Things’ to unite smart home kit
      • Mozilla releases Internet of Things gateway solution
      • Mozilla’s open gateway project can stop tech giants from controlling IoT ecosystem
      • Forging Better Tools for the Web

        2017 was a big year for Firefox DevTools. We updated and refined the UI, refactored three of the panels, squashed countless bugs, and shipped several new features. This work not only provides a faster and better DevTools experience, but lays the groundwork for some exciting new features and improvements for 2018 and beyond. We’re always striving to make tools and features that help developers build websites using the latest technologies and standards, including JavaScript frameworks and, of course, CSS Grid.

      • This Week In Rust: This Week in Rust 220
      • L10N Report: February Edition
  • Databases
  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
    • Who really contributes to open source [Ed: Mac Asay keeps attacking FOSS and promoting Microsoft lies. Is he still pursuing that Microsoft job he once applied for?]
    • Deutsche Bank open sources more code

      Deutsche Bank has taken a second step in its open source odyssey, making software code publicly available designed to help firms better understand their IT environments.

      [...]

      Waltz is the second major batch of code Deutsche Bank has made public as part of its new commitment to open source. Late last year, over 150,000 lines of code – known as ‘Plexus Interop’ – from its electronic trading platform Autobahn was put into the public domain.

    • In Digital Health, Open Source Warrants Due Diligence [Ed: FUD. None of this is not applicable to proprietary software where the risks are even greater. Lawyers or law firms can't help reminding us that they're natural enemies of FOSS because they look to just prey on it with their FUD.]
  • BSD
    • LLVM 6.0 RC2 Released, Retpoline Support Still Settling

      The second release candidate of LLVM 6.0 has been tagged.

      Hans Wennborg announced the availability of LLVM 6.0 RC2 a short time ago. He noted in the brief release announcement, “There’s been a lot of merges since rc1, and hopefully the tests are in a better state now.”

  • Licensing/Legal
    • Google ignores licence-violating clones of VLC

      Cloned versions of the popular VideoLAN media player, better known as VLC, with ads embedded and in violation of the VLC licence, have been residing on the Google Play Store for a long time with the search company doing nothing about them, it is claimed.

      The website Torrent Freak reported that a clone of VLC, named 321 Media Player, had been downloaded between five and ten million times and earned a 4.5 score from 101,000 reviews.

      A second clone, known as Indian VLC Player, has more than 500,000 downloads.

    • Google not taking down adware VLC clone for Android

      ideoLAN, the developers of VLC media player, told TorrentFreak it is struggling to get clones of its software removed from Google Play.

      This follows the company recently turning down millions of euros to bundle its software with advertising.

      VLC is an open source application licensed under the GNU General Public License, which means you may use its code as long as you publish any software you develop based on it.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • New Open Source Drug Discovery Initiative Takes Aim At “Devastating” Disease

      A consortium including the Drugs for Neglected Disease initiative has launched a groundbreaking open source drug discovery project as way to find new drugs to treat mycetoma, a “devastating disease for which current treatments are ineffective, expensive, and toxic,” the group said.

      According to a paper laying out the “open pharma” drug development concept, “There are many potential advantages of an open source approach, such as improved efficiency, the quality and relevance of the research, and wider participation by the scientific and patient communities; a blend of traditional and innovative financing mechanisms will have to be adopted.”

    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • SiFive Launches World’s First Linux-Capable RISC-V Based SoC

        SiFive, the leading provider of commercial RISC-V processor IP, launched the industry’s first Linux-capable RISC-V based processor SoC. The company demonstrated the first real-world use of the HiFive Unleashed board featuring the Freedom U540 SoC, based on its U54-MC Core IP, at the FOSDEM open source developer conference on Saturday.

        During the session, SiFive provided updates on the RISC-V Linux effort, surprising attendees with an announcement that the presentation had been run on the HiFive Unleashed development board. With the availability of the HiFive Unleashed board and Freedom U540 SoC, SiFive has brought to market the first multicore RISC-V chip designed for commercialization, and now offers the industry’s widest array of RISC-V based Core IP.

      • 3D printing – Downloading the world [Ed: People now print the parts they need and greedy lawyers start bickering about "intellectual property (IP) rights."]

        The growth of the World Wide Web has transformed the process of copying digital files from an onerous task requiring the swapping of data carriers (tape-to-tape copying anyone?) to one where digital files are only ever a few commands away or are delivered automatically without user interaction. While this has made life easier in many respects, disruption on this scale also presents challenges. The music industry, for example, has spent millions trying to solve the resulting unauthorised copying issues.

      • First Linux-Based RISC-V Board Prepares for Take-Off

        It’s been two years since the open source RISC-V architecture emerged from computer labs at UC Berkeley and elsewhere and began appearing in soft-core implementations designed for FPGAs, and over a year since the first commercial silicon arrived. So far, the focus has primarily been on MCU-like processors, but last October, SiFive announced the first Linux-driven RISC-V SoC with its quad-core, 64-bit Freedom U540 (AKA U54-MC Coreplex). A few days ago at FOSDEM, SiFive opened pre-sales for an open source HiFive Unleashed SBC that showcases the U540.

      • RISC-V Changes For Linux 4.16 Aren’t As Big As Hoped For

        While initial RISC-V support was added to Linux 4.15, it was only the architecture code and not any device drivers. With Linux 4.16, the RISC-V developers admit this time around they didn’t get as many changes in as they were hoping for, but they do have some improvements to land this cycle.

  • Programming/Development
Leftovers
  • France’s new law bans texting in your car even when pulled over

    The ruling came after a 2017 appeal where a driver protested a fine he received for using a phone while he was parked at a roundabout with hazard lights on. Under the new law, those who text in non-approved areas while in a vehicle will receive a fine of 135 euros ($166) and will receive three points on their driving license that will stay for three years. This is the same punishment currently given to those who use their phone while driving. The law does not apply to hands-free devices (but does restrict wireless headsets), and it makes exceptions for emergency calls, like being stranded on the side of the road.

  • NYPD cops are starting to get their shiny new iPhones for 21st century policing

    Best of all, the new phones are costing the taxpayer dollar zero, as AT&T is rolling them out gratis as upgrades to their old contracts under the Nokia/Lumia/Microsoft system.

    As for the Lumia handsets, they’re not going to waste either. They’re being securely wiped and sold back to Microsoft.

  • The Franco-Dutch fish fight over electric pulse trawling

    Pim Visser plunges his arm into an aquarium rigged to deliver an electric jolt.

    The demonstration is part of the towering Dutchman’s campaign to convince EU lawmakers about the safety of electric pulse fishing — a technology that uses small shocks to drive fish from the bottom of the sea into nets floating above.

    “It’s just a little tickle,” said Visser, who is the director of Dutch fishing lobby VisNed. “The only purpose of the pulse is to have the sole contract its muscles so that it starts swimming.”

    [...]

    Electric pulse fishing is a method of trawl fishing that uses cables to send weak electric pulses along the seabed. The small shocks causes fish muscles to contract so they jump out of the sand into the fisherman’s nets.

    Fishing with electricity has been banned in the EU since 1998, but in 2007 an exception was made for electric pulse fishing. Countries in the North Sea were allowed to outfit 5 percent of their fleet with the technology in order to test its impact on fish stocks and the ocean ecosystem.

  • Science
    • Giant viruses may play an intriguing role in evolution of life on Earth

      We all know viruses cause colds and flu this time of year, but you might be surprised to learn that a virus may have played a key role in the evolution of nearly all life forms on Earth.

      In a new study, a University of Iowa biologist identified a virus family whose set of genes is similar to that of eukaryotes, an organism classification that includes all plants and animals.

      The finding is important because it helps clarify how eukaryotes evolved after branching from prokaryotes some 2 billion years ago.

      “It’s exciting and significant to find a living family of giant viruses with eukaryote-specific genes in a form that predates the latest common ancestor of all eukaryotes,” says Albert Erives, associate professor in the Department of Biology. “These viruses are like time machines that tell us more about how life on our planet came to be.”

    • First step towards flying cars: Incredible footage shows driverless drone flying people around China

      Ehang, a Chinese drone manufacturer, has recently released an unbelievable video of their new people carrying drone undergoing test flights.

      The company boldly states their Ehang 184 is the first passenger drone in the world and will revolutionize transport in built-up areas.

    • Geneticists are using laser-powered chips to search through DNA faster

      As Moore’s Law collapses and we reach the limits of what normal processors can do, unconventional techniques—often dismissed in the past as too complex—start looking like feasible ways to bite off niche computing problems and gain speed advantages. A UK startup called Optalysys thinks optical computing, which has failed to live up to its promise for years, could be used to spot similarities in large data sets like genomes (see “Computing with lasers could power up genomics and AI”).

    • A new DNA test will look for 190 diseases in your newborn’s genetic code

      The $649 test is meant for healthy babies, as a supplement to existing screening tests.

      In the US, the government recommends a newborn screening test that looks for a minimum of 34 disorders (though some states have additional requirements as well). The standard test involves a small sample of blood taken from a baby’s heel.

    • The first Britons were black, Natural History Museum DNA study reveals

      The earliest Britons were black-skinned, with dark curly hair and possibly blue eyes, new analysis of a 10,000-year-old Somerset skeleton has revealed.

      Scientists at the Natural History Museum have used pioneering genetic sequencing and facial reconstruction techniques to prove that the first hunter-gatherers successfully to inhabit Britain were far darker in complexion than previously thought.

    • Nissan Embeds Self-Parking Tech in Pillows and Slippers
    • A newly discovered prime number makes its debut

      On December 26, 2017, J. Pace, G. Woltman, S. Kurowski, A. Blosser, and their co-authors announced the discovery of a new prime number): 2⁷⁷²³²⁹¹⁷-1. It’s an excellent opportunity to take a small tour through the wonderful world of prime numbers to see how this result was achieved and why it is so interesting.

    • Akili Interactive Announces Trial Results for Video Game Treatment of ADHD

      Akili Interactive recently announced results of a trial on the company’s digital medicine product, AKL-T01. According to FierceBiotech, Akili plans to file AKL-T01 with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for clearance under the 510(k) medical device pathway as a novel treatment for children and adolescents with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

    • Erasing a Billion Years of Geologic Time Across the Globe

      The Great Unconformity—a huge time gap in the rock record—may have been triggered by the uplift of an ancient supercontinent, say researchers using a novel method for dating rocks.

    • Cash Comes in for Nanowire Display Startups

      While much of the near-term innovation of future TVs will come from the processing horsepower behind the screen, farther out you can expect a big change in the pixels themselves: micro-LEDs. These displays would be made up of pixels made of miniaturized gallium-nitride LEDs, which are so efficient that displays would consume half or even one-third of the energy used by OLED or LCD displays while being considerably brighter than both.

      Samsung, seemingly at great cost, assembled a huge microLED display for CES that it called “The Wall,” but the technology is likely to make its mark much sooner in small displays for augmented reality and smartwatches. Apple, for example, acquired micro-LED display startup LuxVue in 2014, which reportedly had raised $43-million to that point. MicroLED displays still haven’t appeared in the Apple Watch, though.

  • Hardware
  • Health/Nutrition
    • FDA Declares Kratom an Opioid. We’re Here to Explain What It Does.

      But phasing it into Schedule 1 makes it very hard to further conduct research. And this is a new class of endo-alkaloids that act very distinctly different on opioid receptors. And just because the FDA hasn’t received an NDA [New Drug Application] or IND [Investigational New Drug application] to actually conduct a study with mitragynine to move it into a clinical trial, which we know costs . . . millions of dollars, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have value for these 4 or 5 million kratom users, who I feel would have to go back to using prescription opioids or potentially going to street drugs.

    • Leaked Letter Shows Pressure On Colombia Not To Issue Compulsory Licence For Glivec

      A newly leaked 2016 letter from the CEO of Novartis to the president of Colombia, made available by Swiss group Public Eye, shows the level of concern the Swiss pharmaceutical company had over the effect of possible issuance of a compulsory licence for Novartis drug Glivec in the pivotal South American economy.

    • Viruses—lots of them—are falling from the sky

      An astonishing number of viruses are circulating around the Earth’s atmosphere – and falling from it – according to new research from scientists in Canada, Spain and the U.S.

      The study marks the first time scientists have quantified the viruses being swept up from the Earth’s surface into the free troposphere, beyond Earth’s weather systems but below the stratosphere where jet airplanes fly. The viruses can be carried thousands of kilometres there before being deposited back onto the Earth’s surface.

    • Untreatable gonorrhea is on the rise in China

      The sexually transmitted disease gonorrhea is becoming resistant to the only two antibiotics left to treat it — and it’s spreading in China, according to new research.

      Gonorrhea is currently treated using a cocktail of two drugs, azithromycin and ceftriaxone, but the antibiotics are losing their efficacy. In China, almost 19 percent of gonorrhea cases are resistant to azithromycin and almost 11 percent to ceftriaxone, according to a study published today in Plos Medicine. This latest number is what’s most concerning, says Vanessa Allen, chief of medical microbiology at Public Health Ontario, who was not involved in the research.

      “Ceftriaxone is the last drug that we have for the treatment of gonorrhea,” Allen tells The Verge. “We don’t have any replacement drugs after ceftriaxone right now.”

      “CEFTRIAXONE IS THE LAST DRUG THAT WE HAVE FOR THE TREATMENT OF GONORRHEA.”

  • Security
    • The worst types of ransomware attacks [Ed: Windows]
    • All versions’ of Windows vulnerable to tweaked Shadow Broker NSA exploits

      A security researcher has revealed how sophisticated NSA exploits, which were stolen and published online by hacker group Shadow Brokers, can be tweaked to exploit vulnerabilities in all versions of Windows, including Windows 10.

      Back in 2016, the hacker group named Shadow Brokers stole weaponised cyber-tools from the US National Security Agency and published them online, thereby enabling other cyber- criminals to use the tools to attack targeted organisations and to gain access to systems.

    • Leaked NSA Exploits Modified To Attack Every Windows Version Since 2000

      Probably, the most famous of the NSA tools leaked by the hacker group Shadow Brokers was EnternalBlue which gave birth to dangerous malware like WannaCry, Petya, and more recently, the cryptojacking malware WannaMine.

      Now, Sean Dillion, a security researcher at RiskSense, has modified the source code of three other leaked NSA tools called EnternalRomance, EternalChampion, and EnternalSynergy. In the past, he also ported the EternalBlue exploit to work on Windows 10.

    • WiFi Routers Riddled With Holes: Report [Ed: default passwords]

      Insignary, a startup security firm based in South Korea, conducted comprehensive binary code scans for known security vulnerabilities in WiFi routers. The company conducted scans across a spectrum of the firmware used by the most popular home, small and mid-sized business and enterprise-class WiFi routers.

    • As data protection laws strengthen open-source software governance becomes critical [Ed: Nothing to do with FOSS. Proprietary software has more holes and some cannot/will not be patched.]

      The cadence of delivery isn’t hampered by new layers of governance (as using automated security audits allows for real-time testing as new code is developed). And with accurate audit trails, organisations can prove the extent to which they have gone, to ensure secure code that culminates in safe and compliant applications.

    • Episode 81 – Autosploit, bug bounties, and the future of security
    • Bad Influence: How A Marketing Startup Exposed Thousands of Social Media Stars
    • More Than 12,000 Influencers, Brands Targeted in Latest Data Breach

      It happened to Target, Forever 21, Neiman Marcus, TJX Companies, and Yahoo. Their systems were infiltrated by hackers and the data that they had stored, including consumers’ names, addresses, payment information, and in some cases, social security numbers, were stolen. Now, influencers and high-end beauty and fashion brands, are the target, as Octoly, a Paris-based influencer agency, has confirmed that it has experienced a data breach, putting more than 12,000 prominent social media influencers from YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter at risk.

    • 12,000 Influencers Had Their Data Leaked by Marketing Firm Octoly

      Unfortunately, that is just what happened last month to around 12,000 social media stars who work with Paris-based influencer marketplace Octoly. According to cyber risk company UpGuard, carelessness on the part of Octoly led to influencers’ personal information — like street addresses, phone numbers, birth dates, email addresses and more — becoming accessible in a public database.

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • 6 Easy Ways To Block Cryptocurrency Mining In Your Web Browser

      Cryptocurrencies are digital or virtual currencies that make use of encryption for security. As they are anonymous and decentralized in nature, one can use them for making payments that can’t be tracked by governments.

    • The effect of Meltdown and Spectre in our communities

      A late-breaking development in the computing world led to a somewhat hastily arranged panel discussion at this year’s linux.conf.au in Sydney. The embargo for the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities broke on January 4; three weeks later, Jonathan Corbet convened representatives from five separate parts of our community, from cloud to kernel to the BSDs and beyond. As Corbet noted in the opening, the panel itself was organized much like the response to the vulnerabilities themselves, which is why it didn’t even make it onto the conference schedule until a few hours earlier.
      Introductions

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Pentagon: Afghan war costing US $45 billion per year

      The costs now are still significantly lower than during the high point of the war in Afghanistan. From 2010 to 2012, when the U.S. had as many as 100,000 soldiers in the country, the price for American taxpayers surpassed $100 billion each year. There are currently around 16,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

    • India, Pakistan moving towards war-like situation: Farooq Abdullah

      Abdullah, along with several other leaders in Jammu and Kashmir, has often claimed that dialogue between both India and Pakistan is the only way forward.

    • Turkey Detains 449 People For Criticizing Invasion Of Syria On Social Media

      As Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria continues, so too does their policy of arresting anyone seen as even sort of opposed to the attack.

    • If There’s a War in Korea, Blame Trump

      Brainwashed Americans believe that Kim Jong-un is responsible for the confrontation between Pyongyang and Washington, but nothing could be further from the truth. The real problem is not Kim’s nuclear weapons but Washington’s 65 year-long military occupation that continues to reinforce a political solution that was arbitrarily imposed on a sovereign nation in order to split the country in two, install a puppet regime in the south, establish a permanent military presence to defend US commercial interests, and maintain control of a strategically-located territory that is a critical part of Washington’s plan to encircle Russia and China to remain the dominant global power throughout the century. Simply put, Washington is 100 percent responsible for the current confrontation just as it has been responsible for every flare-up for the last 7 decades.

      Even so, fighting back against the relentless outpouring of US-backed state propaganda is no easy task. So allow me to defend the position of the DPRK with just one, brief analogy that will help to put things into perspective:

      Imagine if the Korean army decided to deploy tens of thousands of combat troops to fight on the side of the South during the Civil War. And let’s say, that these forces were so successful that they were able to kill 3 million Americans while reducing every business and factory, every home and hospital, every church and university, to smoldering rubble. As a result of Korean meddling, the North was unable to win the war, but was forced to settle for an armistice that permanently split the US into North and South allowing Korea to install its stooges in the capitol of Richmond while it established military bases in every southern state from Virginia to Louisiana.

    • Pentagon planning grand military parade for Trump

      President Trump has asked the Pentagon to explore holding “a celebration” for Americans to show their appreciation for the armed forces, the White House said, amid reports that military leaders have begun planning a military parade at his request.

      Trump repeatedly has expressed an interest in holding a display of America’s military might and upped his calls for a parade after witnessing the Bastille Day celebrations on a trip to France last summer.

      The Washington Post reported Tuesday that at a recent meeting between Trump and top military officials, Trump’s wishes were “suddenly heard as a presidential directive.”

    • No Time for Complacency over Korea War Threat

      Like the proverbial calm before the storm, war scares on the Korean peninsula have temporarily gone quiet while its two governments make nice over the 2018 Winter Olympics. But when the games end, count on the Trump administration reviving its ultimatum to North Korea: Stop all nuclear and missile testing and begin to denuclearize, or face a devastating, preemptive attack.

    • New German Warship Fails Sea Trials Due to Tech Woes

      Reducing the size of a combat ship’s complement through advanced automation has been a goal of the world’s navies for decades [pdf]. However, as the U.S. Navy has already discovered, the German Navy is now finding out that this is easier desired than done.

      In December, the German Navy refused to commission the lead ship of its new Baden-Wurttemberg class Type 125 (F125) frigate after it failed its latest at-sea trials. This was the first time that Germany’s navy has ever refused to commission a ship after delivery. The refusal was due in part to unresolved hardware and software integration problems affecting the Baden-Wurttemberg’s ATLAS Naval Combat System [pdf] and other ship systems, which have plagued the frigate’s sea trials since it entered them in April 2016.

    • A Treacherous Crossing

      Paul Ryan’s recent trip to the Gulf reiterated the U.S. government’s support of the Saudi-led assault on Yemen and a bellicose stance towards Iran, which has created a watershed of human suffering, writes Kathy Kelly.

    • Who is Containing Whom?

      Over the years “containment” has been a key U.S. political instrument by which it has sought to isolate, starve out, or excommunicate from the “international community” regimes unwilling to accept the U.S.-dominated world order.

    • Syria’s White Helmets Go Global
  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Reduced energy from the sun might occur by mid-century—now, scientists know by how much

      The sun might emit less radiation by mid-century, giving planet Earth a chance to warm a bit more slowly but not halt the trend of human-induced climate change.

    • Coal Lobbyist Hosted Fundraisers for Senators Evaluating His Nomination for Top EPA Post

      While waiting for a nomination to the Environmental Protection Agency, Andrew Wheeler, a coal lobbyist, cozied up with the senators who would decide upon his appointment in the most direct way possible: giving them money.

      Wheeler, who was first rumored to be tapped for the EPA last March, raised funds for Republican senators on the committee that makes the preliminary decision on confirming appointments to the agency.

      Fundraising documents obtained by The Intercept and the watchdog group Documented show that Wheeler hosted campaign fundraisers for two members of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works — Sens. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., and Jim Inhofe, R-Okla. — last May. The event for Inhofe was held at Rosa Mexicano, a Mexican restaurant in downtown Washington, D.C., and the event for Barrasso took place at Wheeler’s office on K Street in the capital. Federal Election Committee records show both senators received donations of Wheeler’s law firm PAC last year. Barrasso received $2,500 and Inhofe’s leadership PAC received $1,000.

    • How nuclear weapons research revealed new climate threats

      After atmospheric scientist Ivana Cvijanovic began pushing a computerized climate simulation to its limits, she noticed a disturbing result: as Arctic sea ice nearly disappeared, massive high-pressure systems built up thousands of miles away, off the west coast of the United States.

      The atmospheric ridge blocked major storms bound for California, cutting off rainfall. Cvijanovic’s model shows that as the North Pole’s summer sea ice vanishes, as expected in the next few decades, it could turn down the tap for Central Valley farmers, Sierra Nevada ski resorts, and cities throughout the nation’s most populous state (see “The Year Climate Change Began to Spin Out of Control”).

    • This new company wants to sequence your genome and let you share it on a blockchain

      Cryptocurrency in exchange for your genetic data! Sounds a bit like a scam, but it’s the premise behind a new company founded by a leading geneticist. Nebula Genomics says it plans to sequence your genome for under $1,000, give you insights about it, secure it using a blockchain, and allow you to do whatever you want with the data.

      Nebula is the brainchild of PhD student Dennis Grishin, graduate Kamal Obbad, and geneticist George Church, all from Harvard. Mirza Cifric, CEO of Veritas Genetics, which offers a genome-sequencing service for $999, is a founding advisor.

  • Finance
    • Mike Pence hints at possible US return to TPP in talks with Japan DPM Aso: Kyodo

      US Vice-President Mike Pence referred to the possibility of the United States returning to the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal when he met Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso on Wednesday (Feb 7), a Japanese government source said, reported Kyodo News.

    • Move aside Uber, London cabbies have it all mapped out in driver battles

      Pearson’s goal is to drive one of London’s 21,000 iconic black cabs. But first he has to memorize nearly every street and landmark in London as part of a process called the Knowledge. Put in place in 1865, the Knowledge exam requires cabbies to navigate between any two points in central London without following a map or GPS. It can take four years to learn the information and pass a series of stringent oral tests.

    • A Serious Push for Free College in California

      Up until the 1970s, public higher education in California was virtually free. Hundreds of thousands of baby boomers benefitted from this opportunity, attending college for modest fees. These graduates went on to get jobs, purchase homes, save money, build wealth, raise families, pay taxes, and propel their lives forward without the crucible of huge amounts of college debt.

    • More Thoughts on the Stock Crash

      Before anyone starts jumping off buildings, let me give you a few items to think about.

      1) The stock market is not the economy. It moves in mysterious ways that often have little or nothing to do with the economy. In October of 1987, it plunged more than 20 percent in a single day. GDP grew 4.2 percent in 1988 and 3.7 percent in 1989. The market did recover much of its value over this period, but we don’t know whether or not it will recover the ground lost in the last week either.

      2) The market has gone through an enormous run-up over the last nine years. The current level is more than 230 percent above its 2009 lows. That translates into an average nominal return of more than 14.0 percent annually, before taking into account dividends.

    • The Conservatives have turned universal suffrage into a contest for manipulation. Here’s what we must do.

      The UK Government has announced that it will celebrate the centenary of the 1918 Representation of the People Act by establishing a National Democracy Week. Yet Conservative-led governments have, since 2010, repeatedly undermined democracy. For example, after the Electoral Commission warned the government in 2014 against being too hasty in bringing in a new untested voter registration system, they not only ignored the advice, but instead accelerated the process, and consequently, almost 2 million people dropped off the electoral register – comprising mainly those who were among the most disempowered in society, such as students, the poor and minority ethnic groups in inner cities. Furthermore, when the Electoral Commission advised all parties to abide by the agreed limits on spending on election campaign, the Conservative government changed the law and increased the limit by 23%, so it could outspend other parties in the 2015 elections. But their spending still ended up exceeding the raised limits. And they are not likely to be deterred from doing it again since they were fined a paltry £70,000 by the Electoral Commission for their transgression.

    • Chevrolet Sold One (1) New Car In The United Kingdom Last Month

      The increase of one (1) sale last month called to mind that hilarious story a few years back, when Chevrolet spent $600 million in a sponsorship deal for the English soccer team Manchester United.

    • US startups don’t want to go public anymore. That’s bad news for Americans

      Going public was once a sign of a young startup’s promise. But these days, a growing number of young companies are avoiding IPOs altogether. In 1997, the average age of US-listed firms was a sprightly 12 years old. Now the average age is 20. US public companies have also gotten bigger. Between 1975 and 1991, around half of listed companies had a market capital of less than $100 million (in 2015 dollars)—compared with 22% in 2016.

    • NYC Taxi Driver Kills Himself at City Hall after Condemning Uber & Politicians for Financial Ruin

      New York City taxi drivers held a vigil on Tuesday to honor livery car driver Douglas Schifter, who killed himself in front of City Hall Monday morning after writing a long Facebook post condemning local politicians and Wall Street-backed apps like Uber for pushing him into financial ruin. He wrote, “I worked 100-120 consecutive hours almost every week for the past fourteen plus years. When the industry started in 1981, I averaged 40-50 hours. I cannot survive any longer with working 120 hours! I am not a Slave and I refuse to be one. … There seems to be a strong bias by the Mayor and Governor in favor of Uber. A Company that is a known liar, cheat and thief.” Over the past five years, the number of for-hire cars has more than doubled in the city, largely thanks to Uber. But the soaring number of cars has resulted in a financial crisis for many longtime taxi drivers who now struggle to get customers. We speak to Bhairavi Desai, executive director and co-founder of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, which represents over 19,000 taxi drivers in New York City.

    • Judge Koh sets aside sanctions order against Apple in FTC v. Qualcomm antitrust case

      Judge Lucy Koh of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California has granted an Apple motion for relief from a non-dispositive order by Magistrate Judge Nathaniel Cousins, who imposed sanctions on Apple for failure to timely provide documents sought by Qualcomm in its defense against the Federal Trade Commission’s antitrust lawsuit.

      [...]

      Apple is indeed a party to other Qualcomm cases. For example, the Munich I Regional Court will hold a Qualcomm v. Apple patent infringement hearing–not yet a trial, but a discussion of key outcome-determinative issues–in a few hours. Presiding Judge Dr. Matthias Zigann, one of Germany’s leading patent judges, will hear the parties’ arguments, with Qualcomm claiming that Apple’s iPhones using Intel chips (at least that’s what Qualcomm’s public statements and its litigation strategy for the United States International Trade Commission indicate) infringe European Patent EP2724461 on a low-voltage power-efficient envelope tracker. This is just one of various cases pending in Germany. The Mannheim Regional Court informed me of hearings scheduled for June, September, and October, over three different European patents–and it’s unclear whether today’s patent-in-suit is the only one Qualcomm is asserting in Munich (Qualcomm originally announced one Mannheim lawsuit and now I’m aware of three).

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Pollster hired to track Mark Zuckerberg’s popularity couldn’t stand it and left Facebook

      “It’s a bit like a political campaign,” said former pollster Tavis McGinn.

    • Facebook deletes claims it helped influence 2015 general election for Scottish National Party

      The social media giant has deleted half a dozen posts from a page promoting “success stories” on Facebook’s electioneering to clients, including a page called “Triggering a landslide” claiming Facebook helped the SNP secure a near total victory in Scotland during the election.

    • Facebook hired a full-time pollster to monitor Zuckerberg’s approval ratings

      McGinn tracked a wide range of questions related to Zuckerberg’s public perception. “Not just him in the abstract, but do people like Mark’s speeches? Do they like his interviews with the press? Do people like his posts on Facebook? It’s a bit like a political campaign, in the sense that you’re constantly measuring how every piece of communication lands. If Mark’s doing a barbecue in his backyard and he hops on Facebook Live, how do people respond to that?”

      [...]

      “Facebook is Mark, and Mark is Facebook,” McGinn says. “Mark has 60 percent voting rights for Facebook. So you have one individual, 33 years old, who has basically full control of the experience of 2 billion people around the world. That’s unprecedented. Even the president of the United States has checks and balances. At Facebook, it’s really this one person.”

      McGinn declined to discuss the results of his polling at Facebook, saying nondisclosure agreements prevented him from doing so. But he said he decided to leave the company after only six months after coming to believe that Facebook had a negative effect on the world.

    • Fake news sharing in US is a rightwing thing, says study

      Low-quality, extremist, sensationalist and conspiratorial news published in the US was overwhelmingly consumed and shared by rightwing social network users, according to a new study from the University of Oxford.

      The study, from the university’s “computational propaganda project”, looked at the most significant sources of “junk news” shared in the three months leading up to Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address this January, and tried to find out who was sharing them and why.

    • Media’s State of the Union: Normalizing Lies and Hoping for Compromise

      President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address did not disappoint those who expected it to contain the same bombast, exaggeration and outright lies that have characterized his rhetoric since he announced he was running for president in June 2015. While media factchecking projects should be taken with a hefty grain of salt, leading papers have amassed lengthy compendiums of Trump’s lies: The New York Times documented a “public lie or falsehood” on every one of Trump’s first 40 days in office, while the Washington Post counted 2,140 “false or misleading claims” in his entire first year.

      But corporate media continue to grant Trump the same automatic legitimacy granted to past presidents whenever he reads the words of a professional speechwriter off a teleprompter, rather than tweeting or yelling whatever thoughts pop into his head. The response from top newspapers to his State of the Union address illustrate how the lies and false narratives perpetuated by Trump and his administration continue to be normalized.

      In their lead story for the Washington Post (1/30/18), “Trump Calls for Unity, Pushes GOP Agenda in State of the Union Speech,” Karen Tumulty and Philip Rucker described “the conciliatory tone of Trump’s first State of the Union address,” contrasting it with “the combative manner in which he has conducted his presidency”—though allowing that the speech also included “polarizing language when lamenting crime from MS-13 and other gangs, which he blamed on ‘open borders.’”

    • ‘Violence’ Becomes ‘Unruliness’ When It’s Sports Fans, Not BLM Protesters, Breaking Rules

      After the Philadelphia Eagles mounted an exciting and improbable underdog victory over the New England Patriots on Super Bowl Sunday, Philly fans poured into the city’s streets to celebrate. Fires were set, some stores were broken into, and drunk people fought and caroused across the city. Crowds of (overwhelmingly) white male fans climbed poles, leapt off of building awnings, uprooted lamp posts and generally caused mayhem and havoc across the City of Brotherly Love. The celebration ended Monday morning with only four arrests, and with what NBC Sports (2/5/18) described vaguely as “vandalism and injuries.”

    • If Anti-Immigrant Wish List Not Accepted, Trump Says, ‘I’d Love to See a Shutdown’

      President Donald Trump—who has repeatedly wailed about how “devastating” a government shutdown would be to “our military” and federal employees—said during an immigration roundtable on Tuesday that he would “love to see a shutdown” if Democrats refuse to accept his expansive anti-immigrant wish list.

    • Glad you talked about corruption, now walk the talk, Siddaramaiah tweets to PM Modi

      Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah seems to be taking a leaf out of his party chief Rahul Gandhi’s book. For the third day in a row, Siddaramaiah, who is facing an assembly election this year, tweeted directly to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
      Siddaramaiah launched a subtle attack, targeting Prime Minister Modi for comments he made during an election rally in Karnataka over the weekend.
      “I am glad PM @narendramodi is talking about corruption,” Siddaramaiah began his tweet today, referring to the PM tearing into the Congress government on Sunday by accusing it of setting “new records” in corruption.

    • Maldives’ former President Nasheed seeks Indian military intervention in crisis-ridden country

      Exiled former President of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed on Tuesday sought India’s military intervention in the country to release dissidents in prison.

      However, three Supreme Court judges annulled a portion of the order that set off a crisis in the Maldives, revoking the earlier order for releasing the nine Opposition leaders including Mr. Nasheed, who is currently in Colombo.

      The development comes on the day that the Chief Justice and a Supreme Court judge were arrested, after troops stormed the Supreme Court in the wee hours. It follows President Abdulla Yameen’s declaration of a state of emergency on Monday.

    • Introducing ‘Trump, Inc.,’ a Podcast on the Many Mysteries of Our President’s Businesses

      A couple of months ago, a few of us from ProPublica and WNYC sat together in a conference room and started scribbling on a whiteboard. We were brainstorming all the possible paths to investigate around President Donald Trump and his family businesses.

      It looked like Carrie Mathison’s wall. There’s so much that’s still unknown. We don’t know if the president is taking money from his businesses, or what deals are happening, or who his partners are, who’s providing the financing. It goes on and on.

    • Coming From ProPublica and WNYC: ‘Trump, Inc.,’ the Podcast
    • ProPublica and WNYC Studios Announce ‘Trump, Inc.’ Podcast Series

      Today, WNYC and ProPublica announced a new partnership and reporting project. “Trump, Inc.,” a 12-episode podcast series, will dig deeply into the central questions surrounding the business dealings of President Donald Trump and his family, including how his role as President may be working to his financial benefit.

      A year after his election, basic yet vital questions about President Trump and his family’s business empire remain unanswered: Who are their partners? Is the business benefiting from its close relationship with the Trump administration? What deals are happening? Who’s financing them? And most fundamentally — is Trump acting on behalf of his country, or his company?

    • Outlets in Eight Countries Are Using Our Tool to Monitor Political Ads on Facebook

      As the Australian government was conducting a national mail-in survey to gauge support for legislation legalizing same-sex marriage this fall, ads appeared on Facebook trying to sway specific groups of voters.

      Opponents of gay marriage targeted people who, based on pages they liked and posts they had clicked on, were interested in “prayer” and “Christianity.” It is “a child’s right to be raised and loved by their married mother and father,” one video ad said. An advertiser who favors same-sex marriage pitched other users for whom “family” was a priority, contending that the legislation would help children “grow more securely, in less fear of the possibility that they could be different from others.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • The new puritans waging war on art

      # SJWs at catspaws for sharia activists

      But this incident isn’t simply a matter of bad judgement on the part of MAG’s curators. After all, this was not an isolated example of censorship in the arts. Feminist and anti-racist campaigners are increasingly targeting the arts to further their causes, and arts institutions are capitulating to their demands – or, even worse, pre-empting them by engaging in self-censorship.

    • Moderation Is The Commodity

      Content moderation is such a complex and laborious undertaking that, all things considered, it’s amazing that it works at all, and as well as it does. Moderation is hard. This should be obvious, but it is easily forgotten. It is resource intensive and relentless; it requires making difficult and often untenable distinctions; it is wholly unclear what the standards should be, especially on a global scale; and one failure can incur enough public outrage to overshadow a million quiet successes. And we are partly to blame for having put platforms in this untenable situation, by asking way too much of them. We sometimes decry the intrusion of platform moderation, and sometimes decry its absence. Users probably should not expect platforms to be hands-off and expect them to solve problems perfectly and expect them to get with the times and expect them to be impartial and automatic.

      Even so, as a society we have once again handed over to private companies the power to set and enforce the boundaries of appropriate public speech for us. That is an enormous cultural power, held by a few deeply invested stakeholders, and it is being done behind closed doors, making it difficult for anyone else to inspect or challenge. Platforms frequently, and conspicuously, fail to live up to our expectations—in fact, given the enormity of the undertaking, most platforms’ own definition of success includes failing users on a regular basis.

      The companies that have profited most from our commitment to platforms have done so by selling back to us the promises of the web and participatory culture. But as those promises have begun to sour, and the reality of their impact on public life has become more obvious and more complicated, these companies are now grappling with how best to be stewards of public culture, a responsibility that was not evident to them at the start.

    • New Stages play in Peterborough examines censorship

      The slippery slope of censorship and where, or even if, a line can be drawn will be in focus during the next instalment of New Stages Theatre Company’s Page on Stage reading series, which returns to Market Hall Performing Arts Centre on Sunday.

      The topic couldn’t be any more relevant to the current social and political climate because of the ultra-conservative factions that exist both in Canada and south of the border, New Stages artistic director Randy Read pointed out.

      Written by Beverley Cooper and based on an idea by Read, the play If Truth Be Told – which premiered at the Blythe Festival – was inspired by events that happened in Peterborough in 1976.

    • “Emperor of Hell” neutralized by censorship: producer

      “The screenplay was revised 27 times to get the approval of cultural officials and everybody tried to prevent the film from being made,” Khazaei said in a press conference on Tuesday after a screening of the movie during the 36th Fajr Film Festival.

      Directed by Parviz Sheikhtadi, “Emperor of Hell” was scheduled to have its premiere at the festival in 2017, but the organizers refused to screen it in the official competition. Therefore, Sheikhtadi and Khazaei withdrew the film from the festival.

    • Royal Court commits to staging Tibet play following censorship claims

      The Royal Court Theatre in London has vowed that it will stage a play about Tibet that has been at the heart of a censorship row.

      Indian playwright Abhishek Majumdar’s work Pah-la, which draws on personal stories of Tibetans he worked with in India, was initially due to run at the Royal Court in October 2017.

      However, the play was delayed, which Majumdar claimed was due to pressure from British Council in China, and then subsequently withdrawn in January 2018 due to what the theatre has now claimed was down to “financial reasons”.

      [...]

      Majumdar added that the play was facing censorship “over and over again from one of the premiere theatres in the world and of course the Chinese government even before it has opened”.

      A spokeswoman for the Royal Court said: “The Royal Court Theatre apologises to the Tibetan community for having had to postpone and subsequently withdraw Pah-la for financial reasons earlier this year.

    • The Guardian view on Hylas and the Nymphs: not censorship

      As a stimulus for debate, last week’s removal of John William Waterhouse’s Hylas and the Nymphs from the walls of the Manchester Art Gallery certainly did the trick. After its exile to the museum store hit the news, the air became thick with protest and cries of “censorship”. Its banishment was regarded as dangerous political correctness, and the thin end of the wedge. If Waterhouse’s image of a youth surrounded by naked young women was to be taken down, where would it end? Would all our museums and galleries be dismantled, their “offensive” works, aka most Old Masters, locked away from the gaze of the public?

      The painting’s week-long absence (it is back in its place by popular demand) probably focused more attention and thought upon it than it would have received over six months on the wall. Its removal was part of a project by artist Sonia Boyce, an exhibition of whose work opens at the museum in March. The action had arisen from discussions between the artist and staff about power and taste, about who decides what is seen and not seen on the walls of museums and galleries.

    • For an International Coalition to Fight Internet Censorship

      The United States government, in the closest collaboration with Google, Facebook, Twitter and other powerful information technology corporations, is implementing massive restrictions on Internet access to socialist, antiwar and progressive websites. Similar repressive policies are being enacted by capitalist governments in Europe and throughout the world.

      The new regime of censorship is being combined with an intensification of surveillance operations, aimed at monitoring what people read, write and think while on the Internet. The actions of this alliance of the state, military-intelligence agencies and oligopolistic technology corporations are a dangerous threat to freedom of speech and other core democratic rights.

    • NCAC Opposes Removal of To Kill A Mockingbird and Huckleberry Finn from Minnesota Classrooms

      While it is understandable that a novel that repeatedly uses a highly offensive racial slur would generate discomfort among some parents and students, the problems of living in a society where racial tensions persist will not be resolved by banishing literary classics from the classroom. On the contrary, the classroom is where the history, use and destructiveness of this language should be examined and discussed. It is there that the books’ complexities can be contextualized and their anti-racist message can be understood. Rather than ignore difficult speech, educators should create spaces for open dialogue that teaches students to confront the vestiges of racism and the oppression people of color.

    • Anti-censorship group urges reversal of Duluth school district’s decision on ‘Mockingbird,’ ‘Finn’
    • Facebook on Trial in France for Allegedly Censoring Courbet’s “Origin of the World”
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Facebook’s app for kids should freak parents out

      That’s what the world’s largest social network is asking parents with the release of its first app for children, Messenger Kids. It’s a pint-size version of Facebook’s chat app, Messenger (which, like Facebook itself, is intended only for those 13 and older). With Messenger Kids, Facebook becomes the first of the major social networks to put out an app specifically for children under 13.

      The move makes sense in some ways. Chat apps are everywhere, so why keep them out of the hands of children? It could even help parents teach them about online etiquette.

      And it’s a no-brainer for Facebook, whose teenage users are becoming increasingly enamored of competing apps like Snapchat, Twitter, and Kik. With Messenger Kids, perhaps, Facebook can hook younger children on its brand.

    • Macau’s Cybersecurity Law: Less About Security, More About Surveillance (And Censorship)

      Macau, a former Portuguese colony and a special administrative region on the south coast of China, has begun public consultations on a proposed Cybersecurity Law.

      The Macau government is proposing the legislation in an effort to ensure the “security of network communications.” The law would establish a local cybersecurity standing committee and a cybersecurity center which would monitor online information flows in binary code to keep track of and investigate future cyber attacks. The center would coordinate with government departments to supervise and implement protection procedures for companies in 11 crucial sectors, including internet operators, media organizations, water and energy suppliers, financial and banking companies, gambling companies and medical institutions, among others.

    • Newly Released Surveillance Orders Show That Even with Individualized Court Oversight, Spying Powers Are Misused

      Once-secret surveillance court orders obtained by EFF last week show that even when the court authorizes the government to spy on specific Americans for national security purposes, that authorization can be misused to potentially violate other people’s civil liberties.

      These documents raise larger questions about whether the government can meaningfully protect people’s privacy and free expression rights under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which permits officials to engage in warrantless mass surveillance with far less court oversight than is required under the “traditional” FISA warrant process.

      The documents are the third and final batch of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) opinions released to EFF as part of a FOIA lawsuit seeking all significant orders and opinions of the secret court. Previously, the government released opinions dealing with FISA’s business records and pen register provisions, along with opinions under Section 702.

    • Abbas’ government sued over alleged CIA-backed wiretapping

      A former Palestinian intelligence chief and the head of the West Bank bar association are suing the Palestinian self-rule government after a purported whistleblower alleged the two were targeted, along with many other allies and rivals of President Mahmoud Abbas, in a large-scale CIA-backed wiretapping operation.

      Allegations of continued intelligence-sharing with the United States could prove embarrassing for Abbas who has been on a political collision course with Washington since President Donald Trump’s recognition in December of contested city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

    • Canadian Privacy Commissioner Report Says Existing Law Already Gives Canadians A Right To Be Forgotten

      In other words, the Commissioner is looking to import Europe’s right-to-be-forgotten law, but without having to amend or rewrite any Canadian laws. The report interprets existing Canadian privacy protections as offering RTBF to Canadian citizens. And if it offers it to Canadians, it can be enforced worldwide, despite their being no local statutory right to be forgotten.

      Geist notes there are several problems with the troubling conclusion the Commissioner has drawn. First, the privacy protections included in PIPEDA (Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act) cover commercial activity only, regulating use of users’ personal data. When it comes to search results, no commercial transaction takes place. The search engine simply returns results the user asks for. Search engines display ads with the results, but there’s no purchase involved, nor is there necessarily a relinquishment of user info.

      Just as importantly, the Commissioner’s conclusion — even if statutorily sound (though it isn’t) — runs directly contrary to the comments received from numerous stakeholders, including privacy groups.

    • Twilio Demonstrates Why Courts Should Review Every National Security Letter

      The list of companies who exercise their right to ask for judicial review when handed national security letter gag orders from the FBI is growing. Last week, the communications platform Twilio posted two NSLs after the FBI backed down from its gag orders. As Twilio’s accompanying blog post documents, the FBI simply couldn’t or didn’t want to justify its nondisclosure requirements in court. This might be the starkest public example yet of why courts should be involved in reviewing NSL gag orders in all cases.

      National security letters are a kind of subpoena that give the FBI the power to require telecommunications and Internet providers to hand over private customer records—including names, addresses, and financial records. The FBI nearly always accompanies these requests with a blanket gag order, shutting up the providers and keeping the practice in the shadows, away from public knowledge or criticism.

    • Facial recognition bill introduced into parliament

      Legislation has been introduced into parliament to set up a national facial recognition database, as agreed upon by the Coalition Government and the states in October last year.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Foreign passport no amulet in China: Global Times

      In 2015, Gui was abducted in Thailand while on holiday, one of five Hong Kong booksellers who went missing that year and later appeared in mainland Chinese custody. The four others have returned to Hong Kong.

    • Several Philadelphia Eagles Players Will Boycott the Post–Super Bowl White House Visit

      The Philadelphia Eagles won Super Bowl LII on February 4, and some players have already said they won’t attend any White House celebration their team may be invited to this year, according to the Los Angeles Times.

    • Immigrant Children Do Not Have the Right to an Attorney Unless They Can Pay, Rules Appeals Court
    • 6 Ways Government Is Going After Environmental Activists

      A preview of some of the shady tactics we might see in response to protests over construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

      Thanks in large part to the indigenous-led mass mobilization at Standing Rock, there has been a major shift in public awareness and celebrity support for environmental activism. In turn, the government has gone to new lengths to suppress and criminalize this brand of activism.

    • Florida Bill Seeks to Stop Arrests of Injured Immigrant Workers

      A new bill under consideration by Florida lawmakers would stop insurance companies from dodging payouts by aiding in the arrest and deportation of unauthorized immigrants who are injured on the job.

      Legislators and advocates have been pushing for the measure since last summer when ProPublica and NPR documented more than 130 cases in which immigrants who had suffered legitimate workplace injuries were flagged to law enforcement agencies by their employers’ insurers. The workers faced felony fraud charges for using a fake ID when they sought medical care. Meanwhile, the insurers often avoided paying the workers’ compensation benefits legally due to all employees injured at work.

      Some workers were detained by federal immigration agents and deported without getting proper medical treatment for serious injuries.

      The practice stems from a provision in a 2003 workers’ comp law that made it a crime to file a claim using false identification. Many injured immigrants never pursued compensation themselves, ProPublica and NPR found. Instead, insurers turned them in after they sought treatment, and their employers transmitted paperwork containing the Social Security number they’d used to get hired.

      Because the law also made it a crime to apply for a job with a fake ID, hundreds of immigrant workers were charged with workers’ comp fraud even though they had never been injured or filed a claim.

    • Hacker Lauri Love Wins Extradition Appeal; Won’t Be Shipped Off To The US

      We’ve been writing about the saga of Lauri Love for almost four years now. If you don’t recall, he’s the British student who was accused of hacking into various US government systems, and who has been fighting a battle against being extradited to the US for all these years. For those of you old timers, the situation was quite similar to the story of Gary McKinnon, another UK citizen accused of hacking into US government computers, and who fought extradition for years. In McKinnon’s case, he lost his court appeals, but the extradition was eventually blocked by the UK’s Home Secretary… Theresa May.

    • Court Shuts Down Trooper’s Attempt To Portray New-ish Minivans With Imperfect Drivers As Justification For A Traffic Stop

      Anything you do can be suspicious. Just ask our guardians of public safety. People interacting with law enforcement can’t be too nervous. Or too calm. Or stare straight ahead. Or directly at officers. When traveling, travelers need to ensure they’re not the first person off the plane. Or the last. Or in the middle. When driving, people can’t drive too carefully. Or too carelessly. Traveling on interstate highways is right out, considering those are used by drug traffickers. Traveling along back roads probably just looks like avoiding more heavily-patrolled interstates, thus suspicious.

      Having too much trash in your car might get you labelled a drug trafficker — someone making a long haul between supply and destination cities. Conversely, a car that’s too clean looks like a “trap” car — a vehicle carefully kept in top condition to avoid raising law enforcement’s suspicion. Too clean is just as suspicious as too dirty. Air fresheners, a common fixture in vehicles, are also suspicious. Having too many of them is taken as an attempt to cover the odor of drugs. There’s no specific number that triggers suspicion. It’s all left up to the officer on the scene.

    • When You’re in Prison No One Prepares You for Coming Home

      Prison did little to prepare me for life after incarceration. And that has to change.

      In my memories of prison, there are no colors. It was a dark, cold, and gray place. Incarceration, for me, was defined by deprivation — not just deprivation of freedom, opportunity, and safety, but deprivation of the senses.

      On the day of my release, I stepped off a bus at Port Authority and walked out into the world for the first time in 13 years. I remember feeling suddenly overwhelmed by the oranges, blues, reds, and neon greens of New York City streets. After so many years in a concrete box, I was finally free. That excitement, however, soon gave way to anxiety. What I remember most clearly from that day is the feeling of fear that I wouldn’t be able to make it.

      I spent 13 years in prison, but no one started talking to me about my release until 90 days before I finished my sentence. During those conversations, the burden of responsibility was placed on me. I was asked where I would be living, the clinics and reentry programs I would be taking part in, but at no time was I given tools to do research about my options.

    • Leaked DHS Report Uses Junk Science to Argue for Surveillance of Muslims

      The report assumes that Sunni Muslims, by virtue of their religion, should be subject to heightened surveillance.

      A recent draft report from the Department of Homeland Security called for the discriminatory surveillance of Sunni Muslims in the United States.

      The report originated in U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Intelligence and was obtained and published by Foreign Policy magazine. It “examines 29 perpetrators of 25 terrorist incidents in the United States” that CBP “assesses were driven by radical Sunni Islamist militancy.” It concludes, based on the “common demographics” of those in the study, that the government should “continuously evaluate” those with similar characteristics in order to identify “individuals who might have a higher risk of becoming radicalized.” A CBP spokesperson stated that the report was an initial draft and has since been revised.

      The report is nonetheless alarming. First, let’s dispense with the euphemisms: When CBP calls for “vetting,” “recurrent screening,” and “on-going evaluations,” it is talking about long-term surveillance. And that surveillance would be nakedly discriminatory: The report focuses exclusively on Sunni Muslims in the United States and identifies religion and national origin in the “Middle East, South Asia or Africa” as reasons to “continuously evaluate” those who meet the profile. It also oozes religious animus, referring without evidence or explanation to “the long-term difficulty for some Muslim immigrants to integrate into U.S. society,” and casting particular suspicion on “Muslim converts.”

      Because this bias is baked into the report, its conclusions are nonsensical from a scientific standpoint. It analyzes only incidents involving what it calls “radical Sunni Islamist militancy” — ignoring other significant drivers of attacks, like violent right-wing extremism. It then concludes that those with characteristics similar to the 29 perpetrators should be surveilled. And even using this absurdly limited data set, the report still can’t identify meaningful trends or commonalities, leaving only what the attackers in the analysis shared: their Sunni Muslim identity. In other words, the report assumes its own conclusion, that Sunni Muslims, by virtue of their religion, should be subject to heightened surveillance. That’s the empirical equivalent of a dog chasing its own tail.

    • John Perry Barlow, Internet Pioneer, 1947-2018

      With a broken heart I have to announce that EFF’s founder, visionary, and our ongoing inspiration, John Perry Barlow, passed away quietly in his sleep this morning. We will miss Barlow and his wisdom for decades to come, and he will always be an integral part of EFF.

      It is no exaggeration to say that major parts of the Internet we all know and love today exist and thrive because of Barlow’s vision and leadership. He always saw the Internet as a fundamental place of freedom, where voices long silenced can find an audience and people can connect with others regardless of physical distance.

    • John Perry Barlow, Grateful Dead Lyricist and Internet Pioneer, Dead at 70

      John Perry Barlow, a lyricist for the Grateful Dead and cofounder of Electronic Frontier Foundation and Freedom of the Press Foundation, has died. He was 70.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • QUIC as a solution to protocol ossification

      The TCP protocol has become so ubiquitous that, to many people, the terms “TCP/IP” and “networking” are nearly synonymous. The fact that introducing new protocols (or even modifying existing protocols) has become nearly impossible tends to reinforce that situation. That is not stopping people from trying, though. At linux.conf.au 2018, Jana Iyengar, a developer at Google, discussed the current state of the QUIC protocol which, he said, is now used for about 7% of the traffic on the Internet as a whole.

      QUIC (“quick UDP Internet connection”) is, for now, intended for situations where the HTTP transport protocol is used over TCP. It has been under development for several years (LWN first looked at it in 2013), and was first deployed at Google in 2014. The main use for QUIC now is to move data between Google services and either the Chrome browser or various mobile apps. Using QUIC causes a 15-18% drop in rebuffering in YouTube and a 3.6-8% drop in Google search latency, Iyengar said. Getting that kind of improvement out of applications that have already been aggressively optimized is “somewhat absurd”.

      Use of QUIC increased slowly during 2015 before suddenly dropping to zero in December. It seems that somebody found a bug that could result in some requests being transmitted unencrypted, so QUIC was shut down until the issue could be fixed. In August 2016, usage abruptly doubled when QUIC was enabled in the YouTube app on phones. If anybody ever doubted that mobile is the future of computing, he said, this should convince them otherwise. Summed up, 35% of Google’s outbound traffic is carried over QUIC now.

  • DRM
    • Best Buy To Pull CDs From Its Stores, According To Report [Ed: Planned digital obsolescence. Why we must never tolerate DRM and keep format-shifting, copying a lot.]

      Best Buy has told music suppliers that it will pull all CDs from its stores this summer, according to a report from Billboard. This move should come as no big surprise: Between unlimited streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify, and the ongoing vinyl revival, CDs just don’t have the sway that they used to.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Trademarks
      • Edible Arrangements Hits Google With $209M TM Suit

        Google Inc. confuses its users by conflating Edible Arrangements with its competitors in search results, the fruit basket company said in a lawsuit seeking $209 million in damages filed Monday in Connecticut federal court against the search engine giant.

      • BrewDog Beats Back Trademark Action From The Elvis Presley Estate

        In the middle of summer last year, we discussed a somewhat strange trademark fight between BrewDog, a Scottish Brewery that has been featured in our pages for less than stellar reasons, and the Elvis Presley Estate. At issue was BrewDog’s attempt to trademark the name of one of its beers, a grapefruit IPA called “Elvis Juice.” With no other explanation beyond essentially claiming that any use of Elvis everywhere will only be associated in the public’s mind as being affiliated by the 1950s rock legend, the Estate opposed the trademark application. Initially, the UK Intellectual Property Office sided with the Estate, despite the owners of BrewDog both pointing out that they were simply using a common first name and that they were actually taking the legal course of changing their first names to Elvis to prove their point. Not to mention that the trade dress for the beer has absolutely nothing to do with Elvis Presley. We wondered, and hoped, at the time if BrewDog would appeal the decision.

      • Advocate general stamps on Louboutin’s red-sole trade mark hopes

        Advocate General Szpunar in a second Louboutin v Van Haren opinion at the CJEU states he is “even less inclined to classify the mark at issue as one consisting of a colour per se”

        Advocate General Szpunar has delivered a second opinion in the famous Louboutin v Van Haren case relating to women’s red-soled shoes.

    • Copyrights
      • A Brief Sketch Of Privilegio In The Venetian Renaissance

        The very first recorded privilegio or privilege (early form of copyright) was given in Venice to Marc’Antonio Sabellico’s Rerum Venetarum, published in 1487, a book on the history of Venice. The mise-en-abyme quality deepens … Not only did the Venetian Senate grant privilege for this book about the murky origins of Venice, plus its history up to the moment of its publication in 1487, but they granted it to the author, not to a publisher. Sabellico subsequently chose the printer, Andrea de’ Torresani of Asola, to produce the work. This Early Modern concession to the rights of the author followed upon a continuous tradition from classical times forward that a text belonged to whomever owned its printed form. This breach between physical and intellectual property, operative since the beginning of the production of codices and manuscripts, momentarily closed before it opened once more with the triumph of the printed book trade as an industry.

China’s Patent Strategy Seems to be Driving Away Foreign Companies and Causing Legal Chaos From Within

Wednesday 7th of February 2018 10:39:30 AM

Summary: The rather bizarre strategy of spurring an avalanche of patent filings in China serves as a deterrent to foreign investors and a boon to the litigation ‘industry’, which now deals with a growing number of disputes inside China

CHINESE new year is just around the corner (and is being celebrated here). China’s influence in the world is rising (industrial/political/cultural), no matter one’s opinion on it. It’s therefore imperative that we understand it.

According to this new report, LG is leaving the Chinese market. We recently wrote about several LG patent cases; it’s not pleasant. Not to mention state-connected Chinese giants and patent trolls that now sue Korean companies, we presume in order to drive them out and make way for Chinese brands to dominate.

From the report:

LG is coming off its biggest year ever, in terms of overall revenue—it generated 64.1 trillion South Korean Won (around $55.4 billion U.S. currency) during all of 2017 and across all of its divisions, a 10.9 percent jump from the previous year. It also generated its highest profit since 2009, coming out ahead 2.47 trillion KRW (~$2.23 billion), so there is plenty to celebrate. However, its mobile division has been struggling, especially in China where LG has reportedly decided to stop selling smartphones.

A Chinese-language news report quotes a representative at LG’s Beijing office as saying that LG is pulling its “mobile phone business out of China.” While this has not been confirmed by LG in any official statement (not yet, anyway), the company did acknowledge near the end of January that its mobile division faced a “challenging marketplace and strong competition from Chinese brands” in 2017.

Some of these Korean giants (two main giants in phones, but there are others in various sectors like home appliances) rely on China for production of their goods. So this is very much noteworthy. Moreover, as we noted some days ago, giants in China are now adopting the Microsoft operandi. Yesterday, for example, we saw more evidence of that.

As a longtime observer of this market noted this week, “Samsung asks U.S. court to bar Huawei from enforcing a Chinese standard-essential patent injunction” (via). He added: “It’s Microsoft v. Motorola Reloaded, with @SidleyLaw and Quinn Emanuel having switched their roles.”

Here is what his post said:

An antisuit–or, more precisely, anti-enforcement–injunction relating to the enforcement of a foreign standard-essential patent injunction is not unheard of, much less in the Ninth Circuit. Indeed, Samsung’s motion against Huawei is, by and large, a sequel: Microsoft v. Motorola Reloaded. The only noteworthy difference is that this involves two Asian companies, not a negotiation between two U.S. companies as in the Microsoft case.

The irony of fate here is that either of the two firms that represented Microsoft (Sidley) and Motorola (Quinn Emanuel) now has the shoe on the other foot. It happens all the time that firms have to take different positions in different cases, but a role reversal like this rarely occurs. Quinn Emanuel, which unsuccessfully opposed the “Robart injunction” almost six years ago, has now brought that kind of motion on Samsung’s behalf, while Sidley, which had a spectacular success in the patent litigation arena when it barred Motorola from taking some key Microsoft products (most notably Windows and the XBox) off the German market, is now–on Huawei’s behalf–on the opposing side. Thanks to my independence as an app developer who quit consulting in 2014, I can and will take positions on the current case that are simply consistent with the ones I had back in 2012.

For those who are not aware or haven’t been keeping up, Samsung and Huawei are competing for the top OEM spot (not just among Android OEMs, they already exceed Apple’s sales). This is where the “big action” is…

We often assume that China’s resort to patent maximalism is strategic; China wants to use patents as a competitive pretext/excuse for banning foreign companies, more or less in the same way China uses censorship to that effect (a friend of mine who came back from China last week said Google had been completely blocked there).

Yesterday, IAM “engaged” the Shenzhen-based TECHVISUM. “A group of former senior IP executives at big name Chinese tech companies have got together to create a top level consultancy,” it said, in “what looks to be the first of its kind in the country.”

“IP” is a meaningless term, but if the author (Bing) means patents then yes, China lost its mind/compass because by embracing patent maximalism it’s actually causing a lot of harm to local brands that aren’t government-connected (like Huawei). The Chinese oligarchy is served best by this policy. Bing wrote :

Former senior IP executives at some of China’s biggest tech companies have come together to form a business designed to feed into the country’s growing appetite for high-level strategic IP services.

So what we have here is Chinese oligarchy shaping policy to better suit the oligarchy.

There’s meanwhile a new article (“guest post”) at Patently-O, composed by Renjun Bian. “Ms. Bian is a J.S.D. candidate at UC Berkeley School of Law,” it says, “where she conducts research on Chinese patent law and policies. Her dissertation focuses on patent litigation and valuation. Before coming to Berkeley, Ms. Bian studied Chinese law at Peking University, where she earned an LL.B. Ms. Bian also holds an LLM from Berkeley and interned at King & Wood Mallesons’ Silicon Valley office. The opinions expressed are her own.”

Here’s the part which we found most informative: In China, as it turns out, the “overwhelming majority of patent infringement cases [...] were litigated by Chinese” (93.08%, or 1,548 in total). With broader context:

Not surprisingly, the overwhelming majority of patent infringement cases in China (93.08%, or 1,548) were litigated by Chinese patent owners or licensees. Foreign plaintiffs accounted for only 6.92% (115) of 1,663 decisions included in the population. This percentage – although it seemed intuitively low – represented the ratio of patents granted by SIPO to international patent applicants. According to statistics released by SIPO, 93,285 patents were issued to foreign individuals and entities in 2014, making up approximately 7.16% of all 1,302,687 patents granted by SIPO that year.

1,302,687 patents granted in a single year. How many of these can possibly be strong patents and how many are rubbish? Either way, China’s patent policy seems to be self-destructive because it helps nobody but domestic law firms. Some are foreign or foreign-staffed, foreign-owned etc.

It’s worth taking note of this comment bashing those who warned about the US patent culture that fostered similar harm in the US. It speaks of “the entirely discredited views of Bessen and Meuer are taken as gospel by the authors of this paper. There is little of value to see here. Move along.”

Why no value? Bessen and Meuer had done some very good work and were proven right in recent years. China should definitely study their work and heed the warning. Watch the next comment from this person:

Having personally studied in China, I can tell you that the communism there has fully embraced the aspects of capitalism that are evident (now) in the STRENGTHENING of their patent system.

Granting lots and lots of patents isn’t strengthening patents but diluting or weakening them, instead adding financial strength to the litigation ‘industry’.

Team UPC Resorts to Paid ‘Articles’ and Lobbying With Battistelli in an Effort to Cause the UK and Germany to Ignore Their Own Laws

Wednesday 7th of February 2018 09:33:44 AM

Related: The Very Thought of UPC in the UK “is a Perfect Example of What Lobbying Can Achieve!”

Summary: Battistelli (sometimes referred to as “Blatterstelli”) and Team UPC are corrupting the media in an effort to pollute the Web with false information and do the unthinkable; the German Bundesverfassungsgericht (Federal Constitutional Court), however, may take years to decide the fate of the UPC

THE EPO‘s management is truly desperate for the UPC. So desperate in fact that it has begun corrupting media and corrupting academia. It’s misusing EPO funds to just buy an alternate reality. The next President comes from a rogue bank (he’s a former banker), so don’t expect things to improve much. He also comes from an EU agency, EU-IPO. As Dimitris Xenos‏ put it some minutes ago: “The Council (not the European Council @schestowitz) has more than 150 working groups + ad hoc experts who run the show. We have to find out what they do with the #UPC. I have also written to @EUombudsman regarding their inquiry on the Council’s groups…”

Yesterday, more of that alternate reality was promoted by Bristows. Gregory Bacon is obssessing over Belgium again. He already admits that “Belgium has ratified the UPC Agreement,” so why the repetition? They don’t report actual news, they just mention an amendment to make it seem like UPC is imminent. It’s not. At around the same time Edward Nodder from Bristows, unable to report any concrete progress in the UK, resorts to amplifying UPC lobbyists like those who recently met Battistelli (CIPA). What we see here is a bunch of law firms lobbying for their wallets. The headline is “UK IP organisations request government action on IP (including the UPC) in light of Brexit”. The EPO then retweeted the European IPR Helpdesk as saying: “News from @EPOorg and @TheCIPA: No impact of #Brexit on UK membership of EPO nor on the effect of European #patents in the UK.”

Same old propaganda. It’s all about the UPC, which they even mentioned by name in the puff piece that quotes Battistelli. And if that’s not enough, yesterday we saw Liam Thompson from Marks & Clerk joining CIPA and Battistelli in a puff piece titled “Brexit will have no impact on the UK’s membership of the European Patent Office” (this is pure lobbying). They paid for this piece. They try to dominate the media. They try to influence the FCC in Germany and persuade British officials like Sam Gyimah to ratify the UPC. Here’s the happy family (IP Kat‘s Jones next to Battistelli):

Thomas Adam from Team UPC still tries to influence the court’s outcome (Germany), having just published this bit of text, concluding it as follows:

Once the Constitutional Court has published its list of cases to be decided 2018, we may know whether the UPC complaint has been admitted and will be tried by the full Senate.

He makes it sound so simple, but actually, the decision may take several years to arrive. Yes, years. They want us to wrongly assume that the complaint will be rejected as inadmissible and writings like the above (as well as the never-ending fake news from Bristows) are merely an attempt to alter the outcome at FCC. This is pure lobbying.

More in Tux Machines

Software and Games Leftovers

  • LXD Weekly Status #35
    This past week we’ve been focusing on a number of open pull requests, getting closer to merging improvements to our storage volume handling, unix char/block devices handling and the massive clustering branch that’s been cooking for a while. We’re hoping to see most of those land at some point this coming week. On the LXC side of things, the focus was on bugfixes and cleanups as well as preparing for the removal of the python3 and lua bindings from the main repository. We’re also making good progress on distrobuilder and hope to start moving some of our images to using it as the build tool very soon.
  • Performance Co-Pilot 4.0.0 released
    It gives me great pleasure to announce the first major-numbered PCP release in nine and a half years - PCP v4 - is here!
  • Performance Co-Pilot Sees First Major Version Bump In Nearly A Decade
    The Performance Co-Pilot open-source cross-platform monitoring/visualizing stack has reached version 4.0 as its first major version hike in almost ten years.
  •  
  • Sci-fi mystery 'The Station' has released, it’s a short but memorable experience
    What would happen if we discovered the existence of alien life? A question I've often asked and a question many games, films and books have covered in great detail. The Station [Steam] is a sci-fi mystery that sees you investigate The Espial, a space station sent to research a sentient alien civilization.
  • Halcyon 6: The Precursor Legacy DLC released, some good content for a small price
    Halcyon 6: The Precursor Legacy DLC [GOG, Steam] was released earlier this month, adding some really nice content at a small price to an already great game.
  • Parry and dodge your way to victory in 'Way of the Passive Fist', launching March 6th
    Way of the Passive Fist [Steam, Official Site] is a rather unique and very colourful arcade brawler and it's releasing with Linux support on March 6th.

KDE and GNOME Leftovers

  • Kdenlive Café tonight and beta AppImage
    The last months for Kdenlive have been very quiet from the outside – we were not very active on the bugtracker, did not make a lot of announcements, and the 17.12.x release cycle only contained very few minor bugfixes. The main reason for this was the huge work that went behind the scenes for a major code refactoring that was required to allow further developments. So after more than a year working on it, we hope to get ready for the 18.04 release!
  • [Krita] Interview with Christine Garner
    I did Archaeology in University and I love history, mythology, folklore and nature. I’ve always been drawing from an early age. I graduated in 2003 with an archaeology degree. I taught myself digital art and web coding skills for fun and practical reasons. I used to do self-employed web design and admin type jobs, but in 2013 I became disillusioned with my life and had depression. I took a Foundation art course in 2013 deciding to pursue my artistic passions instead.
  • Qt 5.11 Brings New Accessibility Backend on Windows
    Accessibility technology encompasses assistive tools such as screen readers, magnifiers and braille displays, as well as APIs and frameworks that allow applications to expose elements of their UI to such tools.
  • CSS Grid
    This would totally have been a tweet or a facebook post, but I’ve decided to invest a little more energy and post these on my blog, accessible to everybody. Getting old, I guess. We’re all mortal and the web isn’t open by its own. In the past few days I’ve been learning about CSS grid while redesigning Flatpak and Flathub sites (still coming). And with the knowledge of really grokking only a fraction of it, I’m in love.

OSS: Project Names, Events, NSF and Mozilla, ArangoDB, Oracle, Bitcoin and More

  • Choosing project names: 4 key considerations
    Working on a new open source project, you're focused on the code—getting that great new idea released so you can share it with the world. And you'll want to attract new contributors, so you need a terrific name for your project. We've all read guides for creating names, but how do you go about choosing the right one? Keeping that cool science fiction reference you're using internally might feel fun, but it won't mean much to new users you're trying to attract. A better approach is to choose a name that's memorable to new users and developers searching for your project. Names set expectations. Your project's name should showcase its functionality in the ecosystem and explain to users what your story is. In the crowded open source software world, it's important not to get entangled with other projects out there. Taking a little extra time now, before sending out that big announcement, will pay off later.
  • FOSDEM 2018 Community DevRoom Recap: Simon Phipps & Rich Sands
    It’s been a few weeks now since FOSDEM and if you didn’t have a chance to attend or watch the  livestream of the FOSDEM 2018 Community DevRoom, Leslie my co-chair, and I are doing a round up summary on posts on each of the talks to bring you the video and the highlights of each presentation. You can read the preview post of Rich Sands and Simon Phipps pre FOSDEM blog post here.
  • Scheduling Voxxed Days Zurich 2018 with OptaPlanner
    My name is Mario Fusco and I’m honored to be the Program Committee Lead of Voxxed Days Zurich for the third year in a row. Reading, evaluating, discussing, and selecting from the 200+ proposals that arrive every year is a long and challenging process. I must admit, I largely underestimated the task the first year I started doing it. It’s necessary to evaluate not only the quality of every submission, but also how they fit together. In the end, the worst part is having to reject so many incredible proposals because there are a limited number of slots. However, once all the talks have been selected and all the approval and rejection emails have been sent, the process is still not complete. Now it is time to take all the accepted talks and schedule the actual program. Even for a moderate sized event like Voxxed Days Zurich (the conference lasts only one day and we have four parallel tracks), this is not a trivial task. There are many constraints and nice-to-haves that you may need to consider. For example, some speakers will arrive late in the morning or will have to leave early in the afternoon.  Some talks require different room capacities.  Two talks belonging to the same track must not be scheduled at the same time. There are many more variables to this process.
  • 20 Big Ideas to Connect the Unconnected
    Last year, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Mozilla announced the Wireless Innovation for a Networked Society (WINS) challenges: $2 million in prizes for big ideas to connect the unconnected across the U.S. Today, we’re announcing our first set of winners: 20 bright ideas from Detroit, Cleveland, Albuquerque, New York City, and beyond. The winners are building mesh networks, solar-powered Wi-Fi, and network infrastructure that fits inside a single backpack. Winning projects were developed by veteran researchers, enterprising college students, and everyone in-between. What do all these projects have in common? They’re affordable, scalable, open-source, and secure.
  • ArangoDB publishes industry-wide open source NoSQL performance benchmark
    ArangoDB, a provider of native multi-model NoSQL database solutions, announced the latest findings of its open source NoSQL performance benchmark series. To enable vendors to respond to the results and contribute improvements, ArangoDB has published the necessary scripts required to repeat the benchmark.
  • Can one 'multi-model' database rule them all?
    ArangoDB open source NoSQL performance benchmark series is one such open study.
  • Oracle-Supported Port of DTrace?, Linux Foundation Announces Akraino, New Feral Interactive Game and Qt 5.11 Alpha
    For those of us who have been holding out to see an Oracle-supported port of DTrace on Linux, that time is nearly here. Oracle just re-licensed the system instrumentation tool from the original CDDL to GPLv2.
  • Kernel patch releases, WineHQ, OpenIndiana project, FreeBSD Unix distribution, Xubuntu community contest
    The OpenIndiana project is still alive and well with a recent announcement of migrating the project to GCC 6.4. Unfortunately, this version does not cover the Spectre/Meltdown vulnerabilities, although the next version planned is 7.3 which will cover these hot issues.
  • Satoshi’s Vision? Bitcoin Cash Gets It Wrong, Says Max Keiser
    The movement was formally founded in 1983 by Richard Stallman with the launch of the GNU Project, which was founded on the idea that proprietary software harms users to the benefit of large corporations.
  • Bitcoin's Developers Are Debating A Change To Its Open License
    Ever since its launch last August, bitcoin has had an antagonistic relationship with its offshoot, bitcoin cash. But their battle may have provided a trigger to seek ways to protect bitcoin’s core code from indiscriminate use.
  • A new Maryland bill would allow students to buy textbooks tax-free twice a year [Ed: This is a reaction to open-source (Open Access) books and maybe an attempt to extinguish such state-level initiatives]
    University of Maryland student Kayla Little has wanted to be a doctor since she was 11 years old — but a nationwide rise in textbook prices has proved to be an obstacle to her success. "I've wanted to go into medicine for the longest [time], and I really don't want to give that up for books," said Little, who hopes to go to medical school and become an orthopedic surgeon for a professional sports team.
  • How the Grateful Dead were a precursor to Creative Commons licensing
    From its founding in 1965, the Grateful Dead was always an unusual band. Rising amidst the counterculture movement in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Grateful Dead’s music had roots in multiple styles and genres but did not lend itself to easy categorization. Was it psychedelic? Folk? Blues? Country? Yes, it was all of these and more. The band frequently performed well-known public domain songs, but they made the songs their own. Members of the band could effortlessly play across traditional and diverse styles. At concerts, they often performed songs that sounded familiar at first but grew and evolved across styles and genres. Songs often turned into lengthy jam sessions in which musicians played off one another, discovering new musical motifs and expanding them together.

Rust things I miss in C and learning to program is getting harder

  • Rust things I miss in C
    Librsvg feels like it is reaching a tipping point, where suddenly it seems like it would be easier to just port some major parts from C to Rust than to just add accessors for them. Also, more and more of the meat of the library is in Rust now. I'm switching back and forth a lot between C and Rust these days, and C feels very, very primitive these days.
  • Learning to program is getting harder

    I have written several books that use Python to explain topics like Bayesian Statistics and Digital Signal Processing. Along with the books, I provide code that readers can download from GitHub. In order to work with this code, readers have to know some Python, but that's not enough. They also need a computer with Python and its supporting libraries, they have to know how to download code from GitHub, and then they have to know how to run the code they downloaded.

    And that's where a lot of readers get into trouble.